Rodriguez, R J; Acosta, D
Ketoconazole (KT) is an azole antifungal agent that has been associated with hepatotoxicity. The mechanism of its hepatotoxicity has not yet been resolved. It has been suggested that a reactive metabolite may be the cause of toxicity because the hepatic injury does not appear to be mediated through an immunoallergic mechanism. Several metabolites of KT have been reported in the literature of which the deacetylated metabolite, N-deacetyl ketoconazole (DAK), is the major metabolite which undergoes further metabolism by the flavin-containing monooxygenases (FMO) to form a potentially toxic dialdehyde. The objective of this study was to evaluate DAK's cytotoxicity and the role of FMO in a primary culture system of rat hepatocytes. Cytotoxicity was evaluated by measuring the leakage of the cytosolic enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), into the medium and by assessing mitochondrial reduction of 3-(4,5-dimethythiazol-2yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT). The cultures were exposed to various concentrations of DAK (20-160 microM) for 0.5-4 h. There was a significant increase (P < 0.05) in LDH leakage and an immediate decrease in MTT reduction (P < 0.05) as early as 0.5 h. The MTT reduction assay appeared to be more sensitive than the LDH assay in that lower concentrations were needed to observe a 50% reduction of MTT (107, 90, 75, 58 microM DAK at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 4.0 h, respectively). The concentrations to observe 50% LDH leakage from the hepatocytes were 155, 133, 100, 70 microM DAK at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 4.0 h, respectively. Moreover, co-treatment with methimazole, a competitive substrate for FMO, produced a significant decrease (P < 0.05) in % LDH leakage as early as 0.5 h, when compared to cells treated solely with DAK. Also, the toxicity was significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced as early as 0.5 h by n-octylamine, a known positive effector for FMO. These results demonstrate that DAK is a more potent cytotoxicant than its parent compound, KT, as reported previously by our laboratory (Rodriguez and Acosta, Toxicology, 96: 83-92, 1995) and its toxicity was expressed in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, DAK's cytotoxicity was enhanced with n-octylamine and suppressed with methimazole, suggesting a role for FMO in the toxicity of the metabolite.