Chem Res Toxicol 2020 Jul 29;33(7):1551-1560. Epub 2020 Jun 29.
PK Sciences, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Novartis Campus, 4052 Basel, Switzerland.
Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) remains one of the key challenges in drug development due to the mechanisms of action being multifactorial in nature. This is particularly the case for idiosyncratic DILI which occurs in a very low frequency in humans (e.g., 1:10,000). Despite perceptions that acyl glucuronide metabolites are defacto risks for DILI, scientific evidence suggests that acyl glucuronide formation alone does not pose an increased risk compared to other drug metabolites. This applies in particular to those acyl glucuronides which are not reactive and do not form covalent adducts with proteins. The goal of this paper is to provide guidance on preclinical and clinical strategies to evaluate the potential for acyl glucuronide formation to contribute to DILI. A key element of our proposed safety assessment is to investigate whether a particular acyl glucuronide is reactive or not and whether systemic exposure in humans can be demonstrated in animal toxicology studies following administration of the parent drug. While standard animal toxicology studies can identify overtly hepatotoxic compounds, these studies are not predictive for drugs that produce idiosyncratic forms of DILI. In addition, we do not recommend conducting toxicology studies of administered individual acyl glucuronides due to differences in pharmacokinetic and dispositional properties from the endogenously produced metabolites. Once a drug candidate has entered clinical trials, the focus should be on clinical safety data and emerging risk-benefit analysis.