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Cytotoxicity of new psychoactive substances and other drugs of abuse studied in human HepG2 cells using an adopted high content screening assay.

Toxicol Lett. 2018 Nov 19;:

Authors: Richter LHJ, Beck A, Flockerzi V, Maurer HH, Meyer MR

New psychoactive substances (NPS) are still an emerging issue in clinical and forensic toxicology. Information about their cytotoxic potential is limited or even unavailable before distribution and thus their intake can be of high risk for consumers. The aim of the presented study was to develop a strategy to identify cytotoxic potential of NPS based on a high content screening assay (HCSA) using HepG2 cell line and four fluorescent dyes, namely Hoechst33342, TMRM, CAL-520, and TOTO-3. The HCSA was optimized to work without an automated analyzer by using the model compounds fluvastatin, paracetamol, propranolol, and simvastatin. The following parameters were monitored: stained nuclei as a measure for cell count as well as nuclear size and nuclear intensity (all Hoechst33342), mitochondrial membrane potential (TMRM), cytosolic calcium level (CAL-520), and plasma membrane integrity (TOTO-3). The present study showed strong cytotoxic potential for the NPS 5F-PB-22 and MDAI, moderate effects for MDMA, MDPV, methylone, cathinone, 4-MEC, and mephedrone, and no toxic effects for methamphetamine. To assess the metabolic suitability of HepG2 cells under the chosen conditions, cell culture supernatants were analyzed by liquid chromatography-high resolution-tandem mass spectrometry. Metabolites were merely detected for lipophilic drugs such as 5F-PB-22 and MDPV and in addition with a much lower abundance in comparison to the parent compound but the study only allowed a qualitative look for metabolites and the used liver cell line might not ideal when considering metabolism.

PMID: 30465810 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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