Receptor/gene/protein-mediated signaling connects methylprednisolone exposure to metabolic and immune-related pharmacodynamic actions in liver

  • Vivaswath S. Ayyar
  • Siddharth Sukumaran
  • Debra C. DuBois
  • Richard R. Almon
  • Jun Qu
  • William J. Jusko
Original Paper


A multiscale pharmacodynamic model was developed to characterize the receptor-mediated, transcriptomic, and proteomic determinants of corticosteroid (CS) effects on clinically relevant hepatic processes following a single dose of methylprednisolone (MPL) given to adrenalectomized (ADX) rats. The enhancement of tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) mRNA, protein, and enzyme activity were simultaneously described. Mechanisms related to the effects of MPL on glucose homeostasis, including the regulation of CCAAT-enhancer binding protein-beta (C/EBPβ) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) as well as insulin dynamics were evaluated. The MPL-induced suppression of circulating lymphocytes was modeled by coupling its effect on cell trafficking with pharmacogenomic effects on cell apoptosis via the hepatic (STAT3-regulated) acute phase response. Transcriptomic and proteomic time-course profiles measured in steroid-treated rat liver were utilized to model the dynamics of mechanistically relevant gene products, which were linked to associated systemic end-points. While time-courses of TAT mRNA, protein, and activity were well described by transcription-mediated changes, additional post-transcriptional processes were included to explain the lack of correlation between PEPCK mRNA and protein. The immune response model quantitatively discerned the relative roles of cell trafficking versus gene-mediated lymphocyte apoptosis by MPL. This systems pharmacodynamic model provides insights into the contributions of selected molecular events occurring in liver and explores mechanistic hypotheses for the multi-factorial control of clinically relevant pharmacodynamic outcomes.

Graphical Abstract


PK/PD systems modeling Pharmacogenomics Proteomics mRNA–protein Methylprednisolone Liver 



This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health—National Institute of General Medical Sciences (Grant GM24211).

Supplementary material

10928_2018_9585_MOESM1_ESM.docx (451 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 450 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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