Population pharmacokinetic model to generate mechanistic insights in bile acid homeostasis and drug-induced cholestasis

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Bile acids (BA) fulfill a wide range of physiological functions, but are also involved in pathologies, such as cholestasis. Cholestasis is characterized by an intrahepatic accumulation of BAs and subsequent spillage to the systemic circulation. The aim of the present study was to develop physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models that would provide a tool to predict dose-dependent BA accumulation in humans upon treatment with a Bile Salt Export Pump (BSEP) inhibitor. We developed a PBK model describing the BA homeostasis using glycochenodeoxycholic acid as an exemplary BA. Population wide distributions of BSEP abundances were incorporated in the PBK model using Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations, and alternatively the total amount of BAs was scaled empirically to describe interindividual differences in plasma BA levels. Next, the effects of the BSEP inhibitor bosentan on the BA levels were simulated. The PBK model developed adequately predicted the in vivo BA dynamics. Both the Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations based on a distribution of BSEP abundances and empirical scaling of the total BA pool readily described the variations within and between data in human volunteers. Bosentan treatment disproportionally increased the maximum BA concentration in individuals with a large total BA pool or low BSEP abundance. Especially individuals having a large total BA pool size and a low BSEP abundance were predicted to be at risk for rapid saturation of BSEP and subsequent intrahepatic BA accumulation. This model provides a first estimate of personalized safe therapeutic external dose levels of compounds with BSEP-inhibitory properties.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2022


  • Bile acids and salts
  • Cholestasis
  • PBK modeling
  • Pharmacokinetics


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