Enhancing the drug metabolism activities of C3A - A human hepatocyte cell line - By tissue engineering within alginate scaffolds

Tsiona Elkayam, Sigalit Amitay-Shaprut, Mona Dvir-Ginzberg, Tamar Harel, Smadar Cohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigated the applicability of C3A-a human hepatocyte cell line-as a predicting tool for drug metabolism by applying tissue-engineering methods. Cultivation of C3A cells within alginate scaffolds induced the formation of spheroids with enhanced drug metabolism activities compared to that of two-dimensional (2-D) monolayer cultures. The spheroid formation process was demonstrated via histology, immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscope (TEM) analyses. The C3A spheroids displayed multilayer cell morphology, characterized by a large number of tight junctions, polar cells, and bile canaliculi, similar to spheroids of primary hepatocytes. Spheroid formation was accompanied by a reduction in P-glycoprotein (Pgp) gene expression and C3À cell proliferation was limited mainly to cells on the spheroid outskirt. The 3-D constructs maintained a nearly constant cell number according to MTT assay. Drug metabolism by the two most important cytochrome p-450 (CYP) enzymes in human liver, CYP1A2 and CYP3A4, was tested using preferred drugs. With CYP1A2, 3-fold enhancement in activity per cell was seen for converting ethoxyresorufin to resorufin compared to C3A cell monolayers. The spheroids responded to the inducer β-naphthoflavone and to the inhibitor furafylline of CYP1A2. Enhanced metabolizing activity of CYP3A4, measured by the amount 6β-testosterone formed from testosterone, and that of the phase II enzyme glucuronosyltransferases (UGT) further indicated that the tissue-engineered C3A spheroids may provide an efficient experimental tool for predicting drug activities by these CYPs. Moreover, the maintenance of constant cell number, as well as the elevated hepatocellular functions and drug metabolism activities, suggest that the tissue-engineered C3A may be applicable in replacement therapies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1357-1368
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


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