Omics-Based Platform for Studying Chemical Toxicity Using Stem Cells

The new strategy for chemical toxicity testing and modeling is to use in vitro human cell-based assays in conjunction with quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) technology, to identify molecular mechanisms and predict in vivo responses. Stem cells are more physiologically relevant than immortalized cell lines because of their unique proliferation and differentiation potentials. We established a robust two stem cells-two lineages assay system, encompassing human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) along osteogenesis and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) along hepatogenesis. We performed qHTS phenotypic screening of LOPAC1280 and identified 38 preliminary hits for hMSCs. This was followed by validation of a selected number of hits and determination of their IC<sub>50</sub> values and mechanistic studies of idarubicin and cantharidin treatments using proteomics and bioinformatics. In general, hiPSCs were more sensitive than hMSCs to chemicals, and differentiated progenies were less sensitive than their progenitors. We showed that chemical toxicity depends on both stem cell types and their differentiation stages. Proteomics identified and quantified over 3000 proteins for both stem cells. Bioinformatics identified apoptosis and G2/M as the top pathways conferring idarubicin toxicity. Our Omics-based assays of stem cells provide mechanistic insights into chemical toxicity and may help prioritize chemicals for in-depth toxicological evaluations.