In almost 50% of patients with drug-induced liver injury (DILI), the bile flow from the liver to the duodenum is impaired, a condition known as cholestasis. However, this toxic response only appears in a small percentage of the treated patients (idiosyncrasy). Prediction of drug-induced cholestasis (DIC) is challenging and emerges as a safety issue that requires attention by professionals in clinical practice, regulatory authorities, pharmaceutical companies, and research institutions. Area covered: The current synopsis focuses on the state-of-the-art in preclinical models for cholestatic DILI prediction. These models differ in their goal, complexity, availability, and applicability, and can widely be classified in experimental animals and in vitro models. Expert opinion: Drugs are a growing cause of cholestasis, but the progress made in explaining mechanisms and differences in susceptibility is not growing at the same rate. We need reliable models able to recapitulate the features of DIC, particularly its idiosyncrasy. The homogeneity and the species-specific differences move animal models away from a fair predictability. However, in vitro human models are improving and getting closer to the real hepatocyte phenotype, and they will likely be the choice in the near future. Progress in this area will not only need reliable predictive models but also mechanistic insights.
Keywords: Cholestatic drug; DILI; bile acid; cell lines; cholestasis; drug transporters; hepatocyte; preclinical models.