PloS one

Enhancement of CYP3A4 activity in Hep G2 cells by lentiviral transfection of hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha.

PMID 24733486


Human hepatoma cell lines are commonly used as alternatives to primary hepatocytes for the study of drug metabolism in vitro. However, the phase I cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme activities in these cell lines occur at a much lower level than their corresponding activities in primary hepatocytes, and thus these cell lines may not accurately predict drug metabolism. In the present study, we selected hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha (HNF1α) from six transcriptional regulators for lentiviral transfection into Hep G2 cells to optimally increase their expression of the CYP3A4 enzyme, which is the major CYP enzyme in the human body. We subsequently found that HNF1α-transfected Hep G2 enhanced the CYP3A4 expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner and the activity was noted to increase with time and peaked 7 days. With a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 100, CYP3A4 expression increased 19-fold and enzyme activity more than doubled at day 7. With higher MOI (1,000 to 3,000), the activity increased 8- to 10-fold; however, it was noted the higher MOI, the higher cell death rate and lower cell survival. Furthermore, the CYP3A4 activity in the HNF1α-transfected cells could be induced by CYP3A4-specific inducer, rifampicin, and metabolized nifedipine in a dose-dependent manner. With an MOI of 3,000, nifedipine-metabolizing activity was 6-fold of control and as high as 66% of primary hepatocytes. In conclusion, forceful delivery of selected transcriptional regulators into human hepatoma cells might be a valuable method to enhance the CYP activity for a more accurate determination of drug metabolism in vitro.