Clearance prediction methodology needs fundamental improvement: Trends common to rat and human hepatocytes/microsomes and implications for experimental methodology

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Although prediction of clearance using hepatocytes and liver microsomes has long played a decisive role in drug discovery, it is widely acknowledged that reliably accurate prediction is not yet achievable despite the predominance of hepatically cleared drugs. Physiologically mechanistic methodology tends to underpredict clearance by several fold, and empirical correction of this bias is confounded by imprecision across drugs. Understanding the causes of prediction uncertainty has been slow, possibly reflecting poor resolution of variables associated with donor source and experimental methods, particularly for the human situation. It has been reported that among published human hepatocyte predictions there was a tendency for underprediction to increase with increasing in vivo intrinsic clearance, suggesting an inherent limitation using this particular system. This implied an artifactual rate limitation in vitro, although preparative effects on cell stability and performance were not yet resolved from assay design limitations. Here, to resolve these issues further, we present an up-to-date and comprehensive examination of predictions from published rat as well as human studies (where n = 128 and 101 hepatocytes and n = 71 and 83 microsomes, respectively) to assess system performance more independently. We report a clear trend of increasing underprediction with increasing in vivo intrinsic clearance, which is similar both between species and between in vitro systems. Hence, prior concerns arising specifically from human in vitro systems may be unfounded and the focus of investigation in the future should be to minimize the potential in vitro assay limitations common to whole cells and subcellular fractions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1188
Number of pages11
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number11
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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