Blanchette AD, Burnett SD, Rusyn I, Chiu WA. 2022. A tiered approach to population-based in vitro testing for cardiotoxicity: Balancing estimates of potency and variability. J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods (In press).
Population-wide in vitro studies for characterization of cardiotoxicity hazard, risk, and population variability show that human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) are a powerful and high-throughput testing platform for drugs and environmental chemicals alike. However, studies in multiple donor-derived hiPSC-CMs, across large libraries of chemicals tested in concentration-response are technically complex, and study design optimization is needed to determine sufficient and fit-for-purpose population size considerations. Therefore, we tested a hypothesis that a computational down-sampling analysis based on the data from hiPSC-CM screening of 136 diverse compounds in a population of 43 non-diseased donors, including multiple replicates of the “standard” donor hiPSC-CMs, will inform optimal study designs depending on the decision context (hazard, risk and/or inter-individual variability in cardiotoxicity). Through 50 independent random subsamples of 5, 10, or 20 donors, we estimated accuracy and precision for quantifying potency, inter-individual variability, and QT prolongation risk; the results were compared to the full 43-donor cohort. We found that for potency and clinical risk of QT prolongation, a cohort of 5 randomly-selected unique donors provides accurate and precise estimates. Larger cohort sizes afforded marginal improvements, and 5 replicates of a single donor performed worse. For estimating inter-individual variability, cohorts of at least 20 donors are needed, with smaller populations on average showing bias towards underestimation in population variance. Collectively, this study shows that a variable-size hiPSC-CM-based population-wide in vitro model can be used in a number of decision scenarios for identifying cardiotoxic hazards of drugs and environmental chemicals in the population context.