Chimeric TK-NOG mice: a predictive model for cholestatic human liver toxicity

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2015 Feb;352(2):274-80. doi: 10.1124/jpet.114.220798. Epub 2014 Nov 25.


Due to the substantial interspecies differences in drug metabolism and disposition, drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in humans is often not predicted by studies performed in animal species. For example, a drug (bosentan) used to treat pulmonary artery hypertension caused unexpected cholestatic liver toxicity in humans, which was not predicted by preclinical toxicology studies in multiple animal species. In this study, we demonstrate that NOG mice expressing a thymidine kinase transgene (TK-NOG) with humanized livers have a humanized profile of biliary excretion of a test (cefmetazole) drug, which was shown by an in situ perfusion study to result from interspecies differences in the rate of biliary transport and in liver retention of this drug. We also found that readily detectable cholestatic liver injury develops in TK-NOG mice with humanized livers after 1 week of treatment with bosentan (160, 32, or 6 mg/kg per day by mouth), whereas liver toxicity did not develop in control mice after 1 month of treatment. The laboratory and histologic features of bosentan-induced liver toxicity in humanized mice mirrored that of human subjects. Because DILI has become a significant public health problem, drug safety could be improved if preclinical toxicology studies were performed using humanized TK-NOG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bosentan
  • Cefmetazole / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / complications
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / metabolism*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Cholestasis / etiology
  • Cholestasis / metabolism*
  • Cholestasis / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Ganciclovir / administration & dosage
  • Ganciclovir / pharmacology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / physiology
  • Hepatocytes / transplantation
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Mice, Transgenic*
  • Species Specificity
  • Sulfonamides / administration & dosage
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • Sulfonamides / toxicity
  • Thymidine Kinase / genetics*
  • Thymidine Kinase / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transgenes


  • Sulfonamides
  • Cefmetazole
  • Thymidine Kinase
  • Ganciclovir
  • Bosentan