Canalicular Retention as an in Vitro Assay of Tight Junctional Permeability in Isolated Hepatocyte Couplets: Effects of Protein Kinase Modulation and Cholestatic Agents

Roma, Marcelo G.; Orsler, Dominic J.; Coleman, Roger
May 1997
Fundamental & Applied Toxicology;1997, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p71
Academic Journal
A simple, fast method to evaluate acute changes of tight junctional permeability in isolated hepatocyte couplets is proposed. The method consists of the recording of the number of canalicular vacuoles able to retain the previously accumulated fluorescent bile acid analogue cholyl-lysyl-fluorescein (CLF), as visualized by inverted fluorescent microscopy, following acute exposure to the compounds under study. The method was validated by (i) making a systematic documentation of the effect on CLF retention of a variety of hormonal modulators (vasopressin and phorbol esters), as well as several cholestatic (taurolithocholic acid, cyclosporin A, and estradiol 17β-glucuronide) and hepatotoxic agents (menadione, A23187, and t-butyl hydroperoxide), all known to affect biliary permeability in intact liver, and (ii) carrying out a comparative analysis of the results obtained with those recorded using rapid canalicular access of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) as an alternative procedure. The compounds tested all decreased canalicular vacuolar retention of CLF in a dose-dependent manner. Vasopressin- and phorbol ester-induced decline in CLF retention were prevented by pretreatment with the protein kinase C inhibitors H-7 and staurosporine, thus confirming a role for this enzyme in canalicular permeability regulation. A significant direct correlation (r = 0.934, p < 0.001) was obtained when the decrease in canalicular retention of CLF was compared with the increment in the canalicular access of HRP. Image analysis revealed that cellular fluorescence was not increased following exposure to these compounds, suggesting a paracellular rather than transcellular route for CLF egress. These results all support canalicular vacuolar retention of CLF as a suitable method to readily evaluate acute changes in tight junctional permeability in isolated hepatocyte couplets induced by physiological modulators or hepatotoxic agents.


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