Morphological behaviour and metabolic capacity of cryopreserved human primary hepatocytes cultivated in a perfused multiwell device

Xenobiotica. 2015 Jan;45(1):29-44. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2014.944612. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


1. The quantitative prediction of the pharmacokinetic parameters of a drug from data obtained using human in vitro systems remains a significant challenge i.e. prediction of metabolic clearance in humans and estimation of the relative contribution of enzymes involved in the clearance. This has become particularly problematic for low turnover compounds. 2. Having human hepatocytes with stable cellular function over several days that adequately mimic the complexity of the physiological environment would be a major advance. Thus, we evaluated human hepatocytes, maintained in culture during 7 days in the microfluidic LiverChip™ system, in terms of morphological appearance, relative mRNA expression of phase I and II enzymes and transporters as a function of time, and metabolic capacity using probe substrates. 3. The results showed that mRNA levels of the major genes for enzymes involved in drug metabolism were well-maintained over a 7-day period of culture. Furthermore, after 4 days of culture, in the Liverchip™ device, human hepatocytes exhibited higher or similar CYPs activities compared to 1 day of culture in 2D-static conditions. 4. The functional data were supported by light/electron microscopies and immunohistochemistry showing viable tissue structure and well-differentiated human hepatocytes: presence of cell junctions, glycogen storage, and bile canaliculi.

Keywords: Dynamic culture; LiverChip™ device; drug metabolism.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / ultrastructure
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase II
  • Perfusion / instrumentation*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism


  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System