Phenolsulfonphthalein (phenol red) metabolism in primary monolayer cultures of adult rat hepatocytes


The sulfonic acid dye, phenolsulfonphthalein (PSP or phenol red), has been incorporated as a pH indicator in many tissue culture media formulations since the emergence of tissue culture methodologies. The present study was designed to examine the pathway, time course, and degree of metabolism of this anionic dye in monolayer cultures of adult rat hepatocytes. Thin layer chromatographic studies coupled with β-glucuronidase studies show that glucuronidation is the major metabolic pathway for PSP in vitro. About 20% of the dye is metabolized in the first 24 h, but this functional activity is decreased by approximately half at 48 h, and even further at 72 h of culture. This metabolic activity was not affected by continuous exposure to the dye. The effect of PSP concentration on its rate of metabolism by the adult rat hepatocyte in culture seemed to be biphasic, and at concentrations of less than 100µM there was indication of a saturable process. Although PSP seemed not to be toxic to hepatocyte cultures, it is partially metabolized by these cells (as opposed to no observed metabolism in human fibroblasts or HeLa cells). Therefore, its incorporation into tissue culture media formulations for use in hepatocyte cultures should be avoided, especially when studying the mechanism(s) of glucuronidation or metabolic pathways thought to be affected by this anionic dye.

DOI: 10.1007/BF02796324

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@article{Driscoll1982PhenolsulfonphthaleinR, title={Phenolsulfonphthalein (phenol red) metabolism in primary monolayer cultures of adult rat hepatocytes}, author={James L. Driscoll and Nancy Thompson Hayner and Rhonda Williams-Holland and Geraldine Spies-karotkin and Pierre M. Galletti and Hugo O. Jauregui}, journal={In Vitro - Plant}, year={1982}, volume={18}, pages={835-842} }