Variability in high−throughput ion channel screening data and consequences for cardiac safety assessment
Ryan C. Elkins‚ Mark R. Davies‚ Stephen J. Brough‚ David J. Gavaghan‚ Yi Cui‚ Najah Abi−Gerges and Gary R. Mirams
Introduction: unwanted drug interactions with ionic currents in the heart can lead to an increased pro-arrhythmic risk to patients in the clinic. It is therefore a priority for pharmaceutical safety pharmacology teams to detect block of cardiac ion channels, and new technologies have enabled the development of automated and high-throughput screening assays using cell lines. As a result of screening multiple ion-channels there is a need to integrate information, particularly for compounds affecting more than one current, and mathematical electrophysiology in-silico action potential models are beginning to be used for this. Methods: we quantified the variability associat11 ed with concentration-effect curves fitted to recordings from high-throughput Molecular Devices IonWorks® Quattro screens when detecting block of IKr (hERG), INa (NaV1.5), ICaL (CaV1.2), IKs (KCNQ1/minK) and Ito Kv4.3/KChIP2.2), and the Molecular Devices FLIPR® Tetra fluorescence screen for ICaL (CaV1.2), for control compounds used at AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. We examined how screening variability propagates through in-silico action potential models for whole cell electrical behaviour, and how confidence intervals on model predictions can be estimated with repeated simulations. Results: there are significant levels of variability associated with high-throughput ion channel electrophysiology screens. This variability is of a similar magnitude for different cardiac ion currents and different compounds. Uncertainty in the Hill coefficients of reported concentration-effect curves is particularly high. Depending on a compound’s ion channel blocking profile, the uncertainty introduced into whole-cell predictions can become significant. Discussion: our technique allows confidence intervals to be placed on computational model predictions that are based on high-throughput ion channel screens. This allows us to suggest when repeated screens should be performed to reduce uncertainty in a compound’s action to acceptable levels, to allow a meaningful interpretation of the data.