Physiologically relevant oxygen tensions differentially regulate hepatotoxic responses in HepG2 cells

Abstract

This study evaluates the impact of physiologically relevant oxygen tensions on the response of HepG2 cells to known inducers and hepatotoxic drugs. We compared transcriptional regulation and CYP1A activity after a 48 h exposure at atmospheric culture conditions (20% O2) with representative periportal (8% O2) and perivenous (3% O2) oxygen tensions. We evaluated cellular responses in 2D and 3D cultures at each oxygen tension in parallel, using monolayers and a paper-based culture platform that supports cells suspended in a collagen-rich environment. Our findings highlight that the toxicity, potency, and mechanism of action of drugs are dependent on both culture format and oxygen tension. HepG2 cells in 3D environments at physiologic oxygen tensions better matched primary human hepatocyte data than HepG2 cells cultured under standard conditions. Despite altered transcriptional regulation with decreasing oxygen tensions, we did not observe the zonation patterns of drug-metabolizing enzymes found in vivo. Our approach demonstrates that oxygen is an important regulator of liver function but it is not the sole regulator. It also highlights the utility of the 3D paper-based culture platform for continued mechanistic studies of microenvironmental influences on cellular responses.

Citation

Physiologically relevant oxygen tensions differentially regulate hepatotoxic responses in HepG2 cells
Thomas J. DiProspero, Erin Dalrymple and Matthew R. Lockett
Toxicology in Vitro 2021 74, 0887-2333
DOI: 10.1016/j.tiv.2021.105156