Evaluation of chronic drug-induced electrophysiological and cytotoxic effects using human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs)
Introduction: Cardiotoxicity is one of the leading causes of compound attrition during drug development. Most in vitro screening platforms aim at detecting acute cardio-electrophysiological changes and drug-induced chronic functional alterations are often not studied in the early stage of drug development. Therefore, we developed an assay using human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) that evaluates both drug-induced acute and delayed electrophysiological and cytotoxic effects of reference compounds with clinically known cardiac outcomes. Methods: hiPSC-CMs were seeded in 48-well multielectrode array (MEA) plates and were treated with four doses of reference compounds (covering and exceeding clinical free plasma peak concentrations -fC max values) and MEA recordings were conducted for 4 days. Functional-electrophysiological (field-potentials) and viability (impedance) parameters were recorded with a MEA machine. Results: To assess this platform, we tested tyrosine-kinase inhibitors with high-cardiac risk profile (sunitinib, vandetanib and nilotinib) and low-cardiac risk (erlotinib), as well as known classic cardiac toxic drugs (doxorubicin and BMS-986094), ion-channel trafficking inhibitors (pentamidine, probucol and arsenic trioxide) and compounds without known clinical cardiotoxicity (amoxicillin, cetirizine, captopril and aspirin). By evaluating the effects of these compounds on MEA parameters, the assay was mostly able to recapitulate different drug-induced cardiotoxicities, represented by a prolongation of the field potential, changes in beating rate and presence of arrhythmic events in acute (<2 h) or delayed phase ≥24 h, and/or reduction of impedance during the delayed phase (≥24 h). Furthermore, a few reference compounds were tested in hiPSC-CMs using fluorescence- and luminescence-based plate reader assays, confirming the presence or absence of cytotoxic effects, linked to changes of the impedance parameters measured in the MEA assay. Of note, some cardiotoxic effects could not be identified at acute time points (<2 h) but were clearly detected after 24 h, reinforcing the importance of chronic drug evaluation. Discussion: In conclusion, the evaluation of chronic drug-induced cardiotoxicity using a hiPSC-CMs in vitro assay can contribute to the early de-risking of compounds and help optimize the drug development process.