The bile salt export pump (BSEP) is expressed at the canalicular domain of hepatocytes, where it serves as the primary route of elimination for monovalent bile acids (BAs) into the bile canaliculi. The most compelling evidence linking dysfunction in BA transport with liver injury in humans is found with carriers of mutations that render BSEP nonfunctional. Based on mounting evidence, there appears to be a strong association between drug-induced BSEP interference and liver injury in humans; however, causality has not been established. For this reason, drug-induced BSEP interference is best considered a susceptibility factor for liver injury as other host- or drug-related properties may contribute to the development of hepatotoxicity. To better understand the association between BSEP interference and liver injury in humans, over 600 marketed or withdrawn drugs were evaluated in BSEP expressing membrane vesicles. The example of a compound that failed during phase 1 human trials is also described, AMG 009. AMG 009 showed evidence of liver injury in humans that was not predicted by preclinical safety studies, and BSEP inhibition was implicated. For 109 of the drugs with some effect on in vitro BSEP function, clinical use, associations with hepatotoxicity, pharmacokinetic data, and other information were annotated. A steady state concentration (C(ss)) for each of these annotated drugs was estimated, and a ratio between this value and measured IC₅₀ potency values were calculated in an attempt to relate exposure to in vitro potencies. When factoring for exposure, 95% of the annotated compounds with a C(ss)/BSEP IC₅₀ ratio ≥ 0.1 were associated with some form of liver injury. We then investigated the relationship between clinical evidence of liver injury and effects to multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRPs) believed to play a role in BA homeostasis. The effect of 600+ drugs on MRP2, MRP3, and MRP4 function was also evaluated in membrane vesicle assays. Drugs with a C(ss)/BSEP IC₅₀ ratio ≥ 0.1 and a C(ss)/MRP IC₅₀ ratio ≥ 0.1 had almost a 100% correlation with some evidence of liver injury in humans. These data suggest that integration of exposure data, and knowledge of an effect to not only BSEP but also one or more of the MRPs, is a useful tool for informing the potential for liver injury due to altered BA transport.
Keywords: ATP-binding cassette transporter; bile acid; bile salt export pump; drug-induced liver injury.; multidrug resistance- associated protein; transporter.