Dr. Keele completed his doctoral studies in bioinformatics and computational biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, developing statistical methods for the design and analysis of experiments of multiparental populations, such as the Collaborative Cross (CC) and the Diversity Outbred (DO) stock in mice. Recently he joined the lab of Dr. Gary Churchill, where he is focused on statistical approaches to model and analyze mass spectrometry shot gun proteomics data. Relatedly, he is interested in the genetic regulation of complex phenotypes, particularly through integrative analysis of multiple levels of data per subject, such as genotype, gene expression, and protein abundance.
Clinical trials of tolvaptan showed it to be a promising candidate for the treatment of Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) but also revealed potential for idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (DILI) in this patient population. To identify risk factors and mechanisms underlying tolvaptan DILI, 8 mice in each of 45 strains of the genetically diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) mouse population were treated with a single oral dose of either tolvaptan or vehicle. Significant elevations in plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were observed in tolvaptan-treated animals in 3 of the 45 strains. Genetic mapping coupled with transcriptomic analysis in the liver was used to identify several candidate susceptibility genes including epoxide hydrolase 2, interferon regulatory factor 3, and mitochondrial fission factor. Gene pathway analysis revealed that oxidative stress and immune response pathways were activated in response to tolvaptan treatment across all strains, but genes involved in regulation of bile acid homeostasis were most associated with tolvaptan-induced elevations in ALT. Secretory leukocyte peptidase inhibitor (Slpi) mRNA was also induced in the susceptible strains and was associated with increased plasma levels of Slpi protein, suggesting a potential serum marker for DILI susceptibility. In summary, tolvaptan induced signs of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and innate immune response in all strains, but variation in bile acid homeostasis was most associated with susceptibility to the liver response. This CC study has indicated potential mechanisms underlying tolvaptan DILI and biomarkers of susceptibility that may be useful in managing the risk of DILI in ADPKD patients.