Electrophysiological Changes in the Rabbit Ventricular Wedge and Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem-Cell Derived (IPSC) Cardiomyocytes Translate to Severe Arrhythmia Observed in a Canine Toxicology Study, Not Predicted by Standard In Vitro Ion Channel Assays


International Journal of Toxicology


Brown, Alan P., Gregory S. Friedrichs, Hai Ming Tang, Martin Traebert, Valerie Weber, Nancy Yao, and Gan Xin Yan



During drug discovery, small molecules are typically assayed in vitro for secondary pharmacology effects, which include ion channels relevant to cardiac electrophysiology. Compound A was an irreversible inhibitor of myeloperoxidase investigated for the treatment of peripheral artery disease. Oral doses in dogs at ≥5 mg/kg resulted in cardiac arrhythmias in a dose-dependent manner (at Cmax, free ≥1.53 μM) that progressed in severity with time. Nevertheless, a panel of 13 different cardiac ion channel (K, Na, and Ca) assays, including hERG, failed to identify pharmacologic risks of the molecule. Compound A and a related Compound B were evaluated for electrophysiological effects in the isolated rabbit ventricular wedge assay. Compounds A and B prolonged QT and Tp-e intervals at ≥1 and ≥.3 μM, respectively, and both prolonged QRS at ≥5 μM. Compound A produced early after depolarizations and premature ventricular complexes at ≥5 μM. These data indicate both compounds may be modulating hERG (Ikr) and Nav1.5 ion channels. In human IPSC cardiomyocytes, Compounds A and B prolonged field potential duration at ≥3 μM and induced cellular dysrhythmia at ≥10 and ≥3 μM, respectively. In a rat toxicology study, heart tissue: plasma concentration ratios for Compound A were ≥19X at 24 hours post-dose, indicating significant tissue distribution. In conclusion, in vitro ion channel assays may not always identify cardiovascular electrophysiological risks observed in vivo, which can be affected by tissue drug distribution. Risk for arrhythmia may increase with a “trappable” ion channel inhibitor, particularly if cardiac tissue drug levels achieve a critical threshold for pharmacologic effects.

Keywords: Q1 2024

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