Prediction of Human Liver Toxicity Using In Vitro Assays: Limitations and Opportunities

  • Franck A. AtienzarEmail author
  • Jean-Marie Nicolas
Part of the Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology book series (MIPT)


This chapter provides a short review of the current challenges to predict the risk for drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in humans using in vitro assays. Simple single cell-type in vitro cytotoxicity assays may fail to predict complex in vivo interconnected mechanism-based toxicities. Additionally, the lack of standardization of in vitro assays complicates data interpretation and makes assay comparison difficult. The selection of a given assay may depend on the DILI mechanism to be explored, short-term versus long-term culture, and the ability to study the toxicity of parent compounds or metabolites. Indeed, a single model is unlikely to address all the relevant mechanisms that can lead to liver toxicity. A better implementation of preclinical data as well as harmonization of current, emerging and novel in vitro systems should help to better predict human DILI. Case studies are also provided to illustrate how the in vitro assays can help to derisk preclinical in vivo toxicity findings and to better predict clinical human liver toxicity outcomes. Opportunities in the DILI field are also discussed, in particular the need to use more relevant in vitro models to better mimic the in vivo situation (e.g., pathological state, long term exposure, integration of inflammatory components), as well as the access to in vitro models from multiple species. Finally the use of relevant technologies (e.g., label free approach), in silico approaches integrating data from new chemical spaces, and the setting up of a preclinical DILI guidance from the scientific community and authorities are also important steps which should help the scientific community to improve DILI prediction.

Key words

In vitro DILI assays Limitations Opportunities Promises Predictivity In vitro–in vivo correlation Technology Guidance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Non-Clinical Development, Investigative Toxicology GroupUCB BioPharma SPRLBraine-l’AlleudBelgium
  2. 2.Non-Clinical Development, Development DMPK/PKPDUCB BioPharma SPRLBraine-l’AlleudBelgium

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