• How to Study the Metabolism of New Psychoactive Substances for the Purpose of Toxicological Screenings-A Follow-Up Study Comparing Pooled Human Liver S9, HepaRG Cells, and Zebrafish Larvae.

      Wagmann, Lea; Frankenfeld, Fabian; Park, Yu Mi; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Flockerzi, Veit; Meyer, Markus R; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-07-17)
      The new psychoactive substances (NPS) market continues to be very dynamic. A large number of compounds belonging to diverse chemical groups continue to emerge. This makes their detection in biological samples challenging for clinical and forensic toxicologists. Knowledge of the metabolic fate of NPS is crucial for developing comprehensive screening procedures. As human studies are not feasible due to ethical concerns, the current study aimed to compare the NPS' metabolic pattern in incubations with pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), human liver HepaRG cells, and zebrafish larvae. The latter model was recently shown to be a promising preclinical surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of a synthetic cannabinoid. However, studies concerning other NPS classes are still missing and therefore an amphetamine-based N-methoxybenzyl (NBOMe) compound, a synthetic cathinone, a pyrrolidinophenone analog, a lysergamide, as well as another synthetic cannabinoid were included in the current study. Liquid chromatography coupled to Orbitrap-based high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry was used to analyze metabolic data. Zebrafish larvae were found to produce the highest number of phase I but also phase II metabolites (79 metabolites in total), followed by HepaRG cells (66 metabolites). Incubations with pHLS9 produced the least metabolites (57 metabolites). Furthermore, the involvement of monooxygenases and esterases in the metabolic phase I transformations of 4F-MDMB-BINACA was elucidated using single-enzyme incubations. Several cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes were shown to contribute, and CYP3A5 was involved in all CYP-catalyzed reactions, while amide and ester hydrolysis were catalyzed by the human carboxylesterase (hCES) isoforms hCES1b and/or hCES1c. Finally, metabolites were compared to those present in human biosamples if data were available. Overall, the metabolic patterns in HepaRG cells provided the worst overlap with that in human biosamples. Zebrafish larvae experiments agreed best with data found in human plasma and urine analysis. The current study underlines the potential of zebrafish larvae as a tool for elucidating the toxicokinetics of NPS in the future.
    • Tools for studying the metabolism of new psychoactive substances for toxicological screening purposes - A comparative study using pooled human liver S9, HepaRG cells, and zebrafish larvae.

      Richter, Lilian H J; Herrmann, Jennifer; Andreas, Anastasia; Park, Yu Mi; Wagmann, Lea; Flockerzi, Veit; Müller, Rolf; Meyer, Markus R; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-05-01)
      New psychoactive substances (NPS) are an emerging topic amongst abused compounds. New varieties appear constantly on the market, without any knowledge about their toxicodynamic and/or -kinetic properties and knowledge of their metabolism is crucial for the development of analytical methods employed for their detection. Controlled human studies would of course be best suited but due to ethical reasons and lack of preclinical safety data, they are usually not available. Often, in vitro models are used to evaluate similarities to human in vivo hepatic phase I and II metabolism and systems explored include primary human hepatocytes, pooled human S9 fraction, and HepaRG, a human hepatic cell line. All these in vitro models have considerable limitations and drug distribution, reabsorption, enterohepatic circulation, and renal elimination cannot be studied. In the recent years, zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae (embryos) were discussed as a potential in vivo model to overcome these limitations. To date, no studies demonstrating its suitability for studying NPS metabolism in the context of analytical toxicology are available. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether zebrafish larvae can serve as a surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of NPS to develop toxicological screening procedures. Here, we used methyl 2-(1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1H-pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridine-3-carboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (7'N-5F-ADB), a new synthetic cannabinoid, whose human metabolism was recently described in the literature, as a model compound to evaluate zebrafish larvae as a new tool for metabolism studies. Different conditions for zebrafish larvae and HepaRG protocols were tested. As zebrafish larvae and HepaRG cell incubations provided the highest number of metabolites and the most authentic spectrum of human metabolites. The most suitable larvae protocol was the incubation via medium and the analysis of the extracted zebrafish larvae. The zebrafish larvae model might be a promising preclinical surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of NPS.
    • Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine.

      Gampfer, Tanja M; Wagmann, Lea; Park, Yu Mi; Cannaert, Annelies; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Stove, Christophe P; Meyer, Markus R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-05)
      The two fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine (4F-Cy-BAP) and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine (Fu-BAP) have recently been seized as new psychoactive substances (NPS) on the drugs of abuse market. As their toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic characteristics are completely unknown, this study focused on elucidating their in vitro metabolic stability in pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), their qualitative in vitro (pHLS9), and in vivo (zebrafish larvae) metabolism, and their in vitro isozyme mapping using recombinant expressed isoenzymes. Their maximum-tolerated concentration (MTC) in zebrafish larvae was studied from 0.01 to 100 µM. Their µ-opioid receptor (MOR) activity was analyzed in engineered human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 T cells. In total, seven phase I and one phase II metabolites of 4F-Cy-BAP and 15 phase I and four phase II metabolites of Fu-BAP were tentatively identified by means of liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry, with the majority detected in zebrafish larvae. N-Dealkylation, N-deacylation, hydroxylation, and N-oxidation were the most abundant metabolic reactions and the corresponding metabolites are expected to be promising analytical targets for toxicological analysis. Isozyme mapping revealed the main involvement of CYP3A4 in the phase I metabolism of 4F-Cy-BAP and in terms of Fu-BAP additionally CYP2D6. Therefore, drug-drug interactions by CYP3A4 inhibition may cause elevated drug levels and unwanted adverse effects. MTC experiments revealed malformations and changes in the behavior of larvae after exposure to 100 µM Fu-BAP. Both substances were only able to produce a weak activation of MOR and although toxic effects based on MOR activation seem unlikely, activity at other receptors cannot be excluded