Sandwich-Cultured Hepatocytes for Mechanistic Understanding of Hepatic Disposition of Parent Drugs and Metabolites by Transporter-Enzyme Interplay

Drug Metab Dispos. 2018 May;46(5):680-691. doi: 10.1124/dmd.117.079236. Epub 2018 Jan 19.


Functional interplay between transporters and drug-metabolizing enzymes is currently one of the hottest topics in the field of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics. Uptake transporter-enzyme interplay is important to determine intrinsic hepatic clearance based on the extended clearance concept. Enzyme and efflux transporter interplay, which includes both sinusoidal (basolateral) and canalicular efflux transporters, determines the fate of metabolites formed in the liver. As sandwich-cultured hepatocytes (SCHs) maintain metabolic activities and form a canalicular network, the whole interplay between uptake and efflux transporters and drug-metabolizing enzymes can be investigated simultaneously. In this article, we review the utility and applicability of SCHs for mechanistic understanding of hepatic disposition of both parent drugs and metabolites. In addition, the utility of SCHs for mimicking species-specific disposition of parent drugs and metabolites in vivo is described. We also review application of SCHs for clinically relevant prediction of drug-drug interactions caused by drugs and metabolites. The usefulness of mathematical modeling of hepatic disposition of parent drugs and metabolites in SCHs is described to allow a quantitative understanding of an event in vitro and to develop a more advanced model to predict in vivo disposition.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Interactions / physiology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / physiology
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations