Heike Hellmold

AstraZeneca, Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden

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Publications (13)43.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to examine the effect on the rat embryonic heart of two experimental drugs (AZA and AZB) which are known to block the sodium channel Nav1.5, the hERG potassium channel and the L-type calcium channel. The sodium channel blockers bupivacaine, lidocaine, and the L-type calcium channel blocker nifedipine were used as reference substances. The experimental model was the gestational day (GD) 13 rat embryo cultured in vitro. In this model the embryonic heart activity can be directly observed, recorded and analysed using computer assisted image analysis as it responds to the addition of test drugs. The effect on the heart was studied for a range of concentrations and for a duration up to 3 hours. The results showed that AZA and AZB caused a concentration-dependent bradycardia of the embryonic heart and at high concentrations heart block. These effects were reversible on washout. In terms of potency to cause bradycardia the compounds were ranked AZB>bupivacaine>AZA>lidocaine>nifedipine. Comparison with results from previous studies with more specific ion channel blockers suggests that the primary effect of AZA and AZB was sodium channel blockade. The study shows that the short-term rat whole embryo culture (WEC) is a suitable system to detect substances hazardous to the embryonic heart.
    Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 07/2013; · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: AIMS: Several drugs blocking the rapidly-activating potassium (K(r)) channel cause malformations (including cardiac defects) and embryonic death in animal teratology studies. In humans, these drugs have an established risk for acquired long-QT syndrome and arrhythmia. Recently, associations between cardiac defects and spontaneous abortions have been reported for drugs widely used in pregnancy (e.g. antidepressants), with long-QT syndrome risk. To investigate if a common embryonic adverse-effect mechanism exists in the human, rat, and rabbit embryos, we made a comparative study of embryonic cardiomyocytes from all three species.Methods and ResultsPatch-clamp and quantitative-mRNA measurements of K(r) and slowly-activating K (K(s)) channels were performed on human, rat, and rabbit primary cardiomyocytes and cardiac samples from different embryo-fetal stages. The K(r) channel was present when the heart started to beat in all species, but was, in contrast to human and rabbit, lost in rats in late organogenesis. The specific K(r)-channel blocker E-4031 prolonged the action potential in a species- and development-dependent fashion, consistent with the observed K(r)-channel expression pattern and reported sensitive periods of developmental toxicity. E-4031 also increased the QT interval and induced 2:1 atrio-ventricular block in multi-electrode array electrographic recordings of rat embryos. The K(s) channel was expressed in human and rat throughout the embryo-fetal period but not in rabbit. CONCLUSIONS: This first comparison of mRNA expression, potassium currents, and action-potential characteristics, with and without a specific K(r)-channel blocker in human, rat and rabbit embryos provides evidence of K(r)-channel inhibition as a common mechanism for embryonic malformations and death.
    Cardiovascular Research 09/2012; · 5.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tesaglitazar was developed as a dual peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARα/γ). To support the clinical program, a hamster carcinogenicity study was performed. The only neoplastic findings possibly related to treatment with tesaglitazar were low incidences of hemangioma and hemangiosarcoma in the liver of male animals. A high-power, two-year investigative study with interim necropsies was performed to further elucidate these findings. Treatment with tesaglitazar resulted in changes typical for exaggerated PPARα pharmacology in rodents, such as hepatocellular hypertrophy and hepatocellular carcinoma, but not an increased frequency of hemangiosarcomas. At the highest dose level, there was an increased incidence of sinusoidal dilatation and hemangiomas. No increased endothelial cell (EC) proliferation was detected in vivo, which was confirmed by in vitro administration to ECs. Immunohistochemistry and gene expression analyses indicated increased cellular stress and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in the liver, which may have contributed to the sinusoidal dilatation. A two-fold increase in the level of circulating VEGF was detected in the hamster at all dose levels, whereas no effect on VEGF was observed in patients treated with tesaglitazar. In conclusion, investigations have demonstrated that tesaglitazar does not produce hemangiosarcomas in hamster despite a slight effect on vascular morphology in the liver.
    Toxicologic Pathology 11/2011; 40(1):18-32. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The dual peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) α/γ agonist tesaglitazar has been shown to produce fibrosarcomas in rats. Here, the authors studied morphology, proliferation, differentiation, and inflammation markers in adipose tissue from rats exposed to 1, 3, or 10 µmol/kg tesaglitazar for 2 or 12 weeks, including recovery groups (12 weeks treatment followed by 12 weeks recovery), and 3 or 10 µmol/kg tesaglitazar for 24 weeks. Subcutaneous white and brown fat revealed reversible dose-related histopathological alterations and after 12 and 24 weeks developed areas of thickened skin (fatty lumps). There was a dose-dependent increase in proliferation of interstitial cells in white and brown fat as shown by increased mitotic index in all dose groups after 2 weeks. This was limited to the high dose after 12 and 24 weeks in white fat. Gene expression analyses showed that while tesaglitazar induced differentiation of adipose tissue characterized with a switch in cyclin D1 and D3 mRNA by 12 weeks, longer exposure at high doses reversed this differentiation concurrent with a reappearance of early adipocyte and inflammatory markers. These data suggest that sustained increased turnover of mesenchymal cells in adipose tissues, concomitant with onset of inflammation and fibrosis, drives development of fibrosarcomas in rats treated with tesaglitazar.
    Toxicologic Pathology 01/2011; 39(2):325-36. · 2.06 Impact Factor
  • Reproductive Toxicology - REPROD TOXICOL. 01/2010; 30(2):235-235.
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    ABSTRACT: High-throughput biomolecular profiling techniques such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics are increasingly being used in in vivo studies to recognize and characterize effects of xenobiotics on organs and systems. Of particular interest are biomarkers of treatment-related effects which are detectable in easily accessible biological fluids such as blood. A fundamental challenge in such biomarker studies is selecting among the plethora of biomolecular changes induced by a compound and revealed by molecular profiling, to identify biomarkers which are exclusively or predominantly due to specific processes. In this work we present a cross-compartment correlation network approach, involving no a priori supervision or design, to integrate proteomic, metabolomic and transcriptomic data for selecting circulating biomarkers. The case study we present is the identification of biomarkers of drug-induced hepatic toxicity effects in a rodent model. Biomolecular profiling of both blood plasma and liver tissue from Wistar Hannover rats administered a toxic compound yielded many hundreds of statistically significant molecular changes. We exploited drug-induced correlations between blood plasma analytes and liver tissue molecules across study animals in order to nominate selected plasma molecules as biomarkers of drug-induced hepatic alterations of lipid metabolism and urea cycle processes.
    Molecular BioSystems 04/2008; 4(3):249-59. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this work, we investigated a potential mechanism behind the observation of increased aminotransferase levels in a phase I clinical trial using a lipid-lowering drug, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha agonist, AZD4619. In healthy volunteers treated with AZD4619, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activities were elevated without an increase in other markers for liver injury. These increases in serum aminotransferases have previously been reported in some patients receiving another PPARalpha agonist, fenofibrate. In subsequent in vitro studies, we observed increased expression of ALT1 protein and mRNA in human hepatocytes after treatment with fenofibric acid. The PPAR effect on ALT1 expression was shown to act through a direct transcriptional mechanism involving at least one PPAR response element (PPRE) in the proximal ALT1 promoter, while no effect of fenofibrate and AZD4619 was observed on the ALT2 promoter. Binding of PPARs to the PPRE located at -574 bp from the transcriptional start site was confirmed on both synthetic oligonucleotides and DNA in hepatocytes. These data show that intracellular ALT expression is regulated by PPAR agonists and that this mechanism might contribute to increased ALT activity in serum.
    Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 04/2008; 231(1):1-9. · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dogs treated with AR-H047108, an imidazopyridine potassium competitive acid blocker (P-CAB), developed clinical signs of hepatic dysfunction as well as morphologically manifest hepatotoxicity in repeat-dose toxicity studies. An investigative one-month study was performed, with interim euthanasia after one and two weeks. A detailed histopathological and immunohistochemical characterization of the liver lesions was conducted, including markers for fibrosis, Kupffer cell activation, apoptosis, and endothelial injury. In addition, hepatic retinoid and procollagen 1alpha2 mRNA levels in livers of dogs treated with AR-H047108 were analyzed. The results showed an early inflammatory process in central veins and centrilobular areas, present after one week of treatment. This inflammatory reaction was paralleled by activation of stellate/Ito cells to myofibroblasts and was associated with sinusoidal and centrivenular fibrosis. The early activation of stellate cells coincided with a significant decrease in retinyl ester levels, and a significant increase in procollagen 1alpha2 mRNA levels, in the liver. At later time points (three and six months), there was marked sinusoidal fibrosis in centrilobular areas, as well as occlusion of central veins resulting from a combination of fibrosis and increased thickness of smooth muscle bundles in the vessel wall. The pattern of lesions suggests a veno-occlusive-disease (VOD)-like scenario, possibly linked to the imidazopyridine chemical structure of the compound facilitated by specific morphological features of the dog liver.
    Toxicologic Pathology 01/2008; 36(5):727-37. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is used as a clinical marker of hepatotoxicity. Two forms of ALT have been identified, ALT1 and ALT2, encoded by separate genes. The cellular and tissue distribution of the different ALT proteins has not been characterized in humans, and their relative contribution to serum is unknown. Here, we describe the development of novel isoenzyme specific ALT1 and ALT2 antibodies and the expression of the enzymes in human cells and organs. In normal human tissue, high expression of ALT1 was found in liver, skeletal muscle and kidney and low levels in heart muscle and not detectable in pancreas. High ALT2 reactivity was detected in heart and skeletal muscle, while no ALT2 expression was found in liver or kidney. Using immunohistochemistry, strong ALT1 reactivity was found in hepatocytes, renaltubular epithelial cells and in salivary gland epithelial cells, while ALT2 was expressed in adrenal gland cortex, neuronal cell bodies, cardiac myocytes, skeletal muscle fibers and endocrine pancreas. Immunoprecipitation using ALT antibodies on normal human serums showed ALT1 to be mainly responsible for basal ALT activity. Together, the results points to a differential expression of ALT1 and ALT2 in human organs and substantiate a need for investigations regarding the possible impacts on ALT measurements.
    Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 11/2007; 466(1):66-77. · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of the dual peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha/gamma agonist tesaglitazar as an oral antidiabetic was recently discontinued. Here we present tumor data from a 2-year carcinogenicity study in rats given 0.3, 1, 3, and 10 micromol/kg tesaglitazar is presented with focus on the findings of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas. To investigate the mechanism for induction of fibrosarcomas, replicative DNA synthesis (immunohistochemical detection of BrdU-labeled cells) and expression of PPARgamma (immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) in subcutaneous adipose tissues was assessed in rats administered 1 or 10 micromol/kg for 2 weeks or 3 months. Poorly differentiated subcutaneous mesenchymal sarcomas with a predominant spindle cell appearance occurred at the highest dose level of 10 micromol/kg in both sexes, and these tumors were diagnosed as fibrosarcomas. The 10-micromol/kg dose was at or above the maximum tolerated dose and caused considerable cardiovascular mortality. Tesaglitazar stimulated DNA synthesis mainly in subcutaneous interstitial mesenchymal cells. The percentage of BrdU-labeled interstitial cells was increased at 1 and 10 micromol/kg after 2 weeks. The increase in DNA synthesis was still significant at the end of the 12-week treatment at 10 mumol/kg, the dose producing fibrosarcoma. However, at 1 micromol/kg, a dose below the no-observed-effect level for fibrosarcoma, the level of DNA synthesis was similar to control levels at 12 weeks. Immunohistochemical analyses showed no detectable PPARgamma protein in the majority of BrdU-labeled interstitial mesenchymal cells in white and brown fat. This indicates that stimulation of DNA synthesis is not mediated via direct activation of PPARgamma in these cells. The results suggest that the induction of rat fibrosarcoma by tesaglitazar, at exposures 100-fold above the human therapeutic exposure, may involve proliferation of undifferentiated mesenchymal cells in subcutaneous tissues.
    Toxicological Sciences 08/2007; 98(1):63-74. · 4.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is a potent hepatotoxin that exerts its toxicity through binding to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and the subsequent induction or repression of gene transcription. In order to further identify novel genes and pathways that may be associated with TCDD-induced hepatotoxicity, we investigated gene changes in rat liver following exposure to single oral doses of TCDD. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered single doses of 0.4 microg/kg bw or 40 microg/kg bw TCDD and killed at 6 h, 24 h, or 7 days, for global analyses of gene expression. In general, low-dose TCDD exposure resulted in greater than 2-fold induction of genes coding for a battery of phase I and phase II metabolizing enzymes including CYP1A1, CYP1A2, NADPH quinone oxidoreductase, UGT1A6/7, and metallothionein 1. However, 0.4 microg/kg bw TCDD also altered the expression of Gadd45a and Cyclin D1, suggesting that even low-dose TCDD exposure can alter the expression of genes indicative of cellular stress or DNA damage and associated with cell cycle control. At the high-dose, widespread changes were observed for genes encoding cellular signaling proteins, cellular adhesion, cytoskeletal and membrane transport proteins as well as transcripts coding for lipid, carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism. In addition, decreased expression of cytochrome P450 7A1, short heterodimer partner (SHP; gene designation nr0b2), farnesyl X receptor (FXR), Ntcp, and Slc21a5 (oatp2) were observed and confirmed by RT-PCR analyses in independent rat liver samples. Altered expression of these genes implies major deregulation of cholesterol metabolism and bile acid synthesis and transport. We suggest that these early and novel changes have the potential to contribute significantly to TCDD induced hepatotoxicity and hypercholesterolemia.
    Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 09/2005; 207(1):1-24. · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intracellular oxidative stress is a dynamic situation characterized by the accumulation of reactive oxygen metabolites, such as hydrogen peroxide. This is traditionally associated with both macromolecular damage and adaptive changes in gene expression, aimed at preventing cellular demise. However, the overall extent of such genetic changes is not well characterized. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of altered mRNA profiles in human A549 type II lung epithelial cells in response to hydrogen peroxide, at concentrations failing to induce necrotic toxicity. The results of an Affymetrix-based screen of the steady-state levels of mRNAs for several thousand genes revealed a complex pattern of transcriptional and/or posttranscriptional response to oxidative stress, which can be functionally related to both the oxidation and repair of damaged DNA, the induction and permanency of cell cycle arrest, and caspase-3 activation. Many of the genetic events can be related to activation of the p53/p21 pathway, but many other novel inductions and suppressions were detected, revealing the intricacy of the response. The data also disclosed a potential interaction between hydrogen peroxide treatment and increased sensitivity to cell killing by TRAIL, which could be functionally confirmed at the level of induction of caspase-3 activity.
    Free Radical Biology and Medicine 05/2004; 36(7):881-96. · 5.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Expectations are high that the use of proteomics, gene arrays and metabonomics will improve risk assessment and enable prediction of toxicity early in drug development. These molecular profiling techniques may be used to classify compounds and to identify predictive markers that can be used to screen large numbers of chemicals. One of the challenges for the scientific community is to discriminate between changes in gene/protein expression and metabolic profiles reflecting physiological/adaptive responses, and changes related to pathology and toxicology. In these proceedings we provide a brief overview of the technologies with focus on proteomics and the possible applications to mechanistic and predictive toxicology. The discussion also includes strengths and limitations of molecular profiling technologies.
    Toxicology Letters 03/2002; 127(1-3):239-43. · 3.15 Impact Factor