Assessing proarrhythmic potential of environmental chemicals using a high throughput in vitro-in silico model with human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes

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Hsing-Chieh Lin, Ivan Rusyn, Weihsueh A. Chiu
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QT prolongation and the potentially fatal arrhythmia Torsades de Pointes are common causes for withdrawing or restricting drugs; however, little is known about similar liabilities of environmental chemicals. Current in vitro-in silico models for testing proarrhythmic liabilities, using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM), provide an opportunity to address this data gap. These methods are still low- to medium-throughput and not suitable for testing the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce. We hypothesized that combining high-throughput population- based in vitro testing in hiPSC-CMs with a fully in silico data analysis workflow can offer sensitive and specific predictions of proarrhythmic potential. We calibrated the model with a published hiPSC-CM dataset of drugs known to be positive or negative for proarrhythmia and tested its performance using internal cross-validation and external validation. Additionally, we used computational down-sampling to examine three study designs for hiPSC-CM data: one replicate of one donor, five replicates of one donor, and one replicate of a population of five donors. We found that the population of five donors had the best performance for predicting proarrhythmic potential. The resulting model was then applied to predict the proarrhythmic potential of environmental chemicals, additionally characterizing risk through margin of exposure (MOE) calculations. Out of over 900 environmental chemicals tested, over 150 were predicted to have proarrhythmic potential, but only seven chemicals had a MOE < 1. We conclude that a high-throughput in vitro-in silico approach using population-based hiPSC-CM testing provides a reasonable strategy to screen environmental chemicals for proarrhythmic potential.

Plain language summary
This article discusses a new method for testing the potential harmful effects of environmental chemicals on the heart. We used human heart cells grown in a lab to test the chemicals and developed a computer model to predict their potential to cause dangerous heart rhythms. This method could help identify harmful chemicals more quickly and accurately than current testing methods. The study has the potential to improve evaluation of chemical risks and protect public health without the use of animals.

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How to Cite
Lin, H.-C., Rusyn, I. and Chiu, W. A. (2024) “Assessing proarrhythmic potential of environmental chemicals using a high throughput in vitro-in silico model with human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes ”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 41(1), pp. 37–49. doi: 10.14573/altex.2306231.

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