NTP uses metabolomics to assess toxicity
Scientists from the Division of the National Toxicology Program (DNTP) uncovered a new strategy that could estimate the safety of chemicals. Using benchmark concentration (BMC) analysis with human liver cells, the team determined that different concentrations of compounds caused changes in detectable metabolites produced by liver cells. The project used metabolomics, which is the large-scale detection and measurement of metabolites — the molecules that are intermediates or end products after the body breaks down food, drugs, or chemicals.
The researchers applied concentration-response modeling using BMC analysis to interpret mass spectrometry-based untargeted metabolomics data. Concentration-response modeling assesses how exposure to various concentrations of toxic chemicals and other compounds leads to changes in metabolites. The team exposed cultures of human liver cells to compounds that included relatively toxic drugs such as the cancer drug tamoxifen and the antiretroviral medication ritonavir.
Rising concentrations of drugs known to cause liver injury resulted in sharp increases in metabolic responses that were expected based on past research. By contrast, this effect did not occur for nontoxic compounds, such as sucrose and potassium chloride. According to the authors, the study shows that concentration-response modeling applied to untargeted metabolomics data accurately captures the potential of chemicals to cause liver injury. (JW)
Citation: Crizer DM, Ramaiahgari SC, Ferguson SS, Rice JR, Dunlap PE, Sipes NS, Auerbach SS, Merrick BA, DeVito MJ. 2021. Benchmark concentrations for untargeted metabolomics vs. transcriptomics for liver injury compounds in in vitro liver models. Toxicol Sci; doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfab036 [Online 22 March 2021].