Cross clinical-experimental-computational qualification of in silico drug trials on human cardiac purkinje cells for proarrhythmia risk prediction

Front Toxicol. 2022 Oct 5;4:992650. doi: 10.3389/ftox.2022.992650. eCollection 2022.


The preclinical identification of drug-induced cardiotoxicity and its translation into human risk are still major challenges in pharmaceutical drug discovery. The ICH S7B Guideline and Q&A on Clinical and Nonclinical Evaluation of QT/QTc Interval Prolongation and Proarrhythmic Potential promotes human in silico drug trials as a novel tool for proarrhythmia risk assessment. To facilitate the use of in silico data in regulatory submissions, explanatory control compounds should be tested and documented to demonstrate consistency between predictions and the historic validation data. This study aims to quantify drug-induced electrophysiological effects on in silico cardiac human Purkinje cells, to compare them with existing in vitro rabbit data, and to assess their accuracy for clinical pro-arrhythmic risk predictions. The effects of 14 reference compounds were quantified in simulations with a population of in silico human cardiac Purkinje models. For each drug dose, five electrophysiological biomarkers were quantified at three pacing frequencies, and results compared with available in vitro experiments and clinical proarrhythmia reports. Three key results were obtained: 1) In silico, repolarization abnormalities in human Purkinje simulations predicted drug-induced arrhythmia for all risky compounds, showing higher predicted accuracy than rabbit experiments; 2) Drug-induced electrophysiological changes observed in human-based simulations showed a high degree of consistency with in vitro rabbit recordings at all pacing frequencies, and depolarization velocity and action potential duration were the most consistent biomarkers; 3) discrepancies observed for dofetilide, sotalol and terfenadine are mainly caused by species differences between humans and rabbit. Taken together, this study demonstrates higher accuracy of in silico methods compared to in vitro animal models for pro-arrhythmic risk prediction, as well as a high degree of consistency with in vitro experiments commonly used in safety pharmacology, supporting the potential for industrial and regulatory adoption of in silico trials for proarrhythmia prediction.

Keywords: cardiac action potential; cardiac arrythmia; cardiac electrophysiology; computer modelling; drug safety; hERG; in silico trials; purkinje fibre.