Differential expression of several drug transporter genes in HepG2 and Huh-7 cell lines


1 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

3 Department of Molecular Biology, Malaria and Vector Resistance Laboratory, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Jakarta, Indonesia


Background: Cell culture techniques have many advantages for investigation of drug transport to target organ like liver. HepG2 and Huh-7 are two cell lines available from hepatoma that can be used as a model for hepatic drug transport. The present study is aimed to analyze the expression level of several drug transporter genes in two hepatoma cell lines, HepG2 and Huh-7 and their response to inhibitors.
Materials and Methods: This is an in vitro study using HepG2 and Huh-7 cells. The expression level of the following drug transporter genes was quantified: P-glycoprotein/multidrug resistance protein 1, Organic Anionic Transporter Protein 1B1 (OATP1B1) and Organic Cationic Transporter-1 (OCT1). Ribonucleic acid was extracted from the cells using Tripure isolation reagent, then gene expression level of the transporters is quantified using Applied Biosystems quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Verapamil (P-glycoprotein inhibitor), nelfinavir (OATP1B1 inhibitor), quinidine (OCT1 inhibitor) were used to differentiate the inhibitory properties of these agents to the transporter expressions in HepG2 and Huh-7 cells.
Results: Huh-7 shows a higher level of P-glycoprotein, OATP1B1 and OCT1 expressions compared with those of HepG2. Verapamil reduces the expressions of P-glycoprotein in HepG2 and Huh-7; nelfinavir reduces the expression of OATP1B1 in HepG2 and Huh-7; while quinidine reduces the OCT1 gene expressions in HepG2, but not in Huh-7 cells.
Conclusion: This study indicates that HepG2 might be a more suitable in vitro model than Huh-7 to study drug transport in hepatocytes involving drug transporters.


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