Grimm FA, Blanchette A, House JS, Ferguson K, Hsieh N-H, Dalaijamts C, Wright AA, Anson B, Wright FA, Chiu WA, Rusyn I. 2018. A human population-based organotypic in vitro model for cardiotoxicity screening. ALTEX 35(4):441–452, Epub 2018/07/08, doi: 10.14573/altex.1805301. PMID: 29999168.
Assessing inter-individual variability in responses to xenobiotics remains a substantial challenge, both in drug development with respect to pharmaceuticals and in public health with respect to environmental chemicals. Although approaches exist to characterize pharmacokinetic variability, there are no methods to routinely address pharmacodynamic variability. In this study, we aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of characterizing inter-individual variability in a human in vitro model. Specifically, we hypothesized that genetic variability across a population of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes translates into reproducible variability in both baseline phenotypes and drug responses. We measured baseline and drug-related effects in iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes from 27 healthy donors on kinetic Ca2+ flux and high-content live cell imaging. Cells were treated in concentration-response with cardiotoxic drugs: isoproterenol (β-adrenergic receptor agonist/positive inotrope), propranolol (β-adrenergic receptor antagonist/negative inotrope), and cisapride (hERG channel inhibitor/QT prolongation). Cells from four of the 27 donors were further evaluated in terms of baseline and treatment-related gene expression. Reproducibility of phenotypic responses was evaluated across batches and time. iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes exhibited reproducible donor-specific differences in baseline function and drug-induced effects. We demonstrate the feasibility of using a panel of population-based organotypic cells from healthy donors as an animal replacement experimental model. This model can be used to rapidly screen drugs and chemicals for inter-individual variability in cardiotoxicity. This approach demonstrates the feasibility of quantifying inter-individual variability in xenobiotic responses and can be expanded to other cell types for which in vitro populations can be derived from iPSCs.