Introduction: Albendazole is used to treat endoparasitic diseases in animals and humans. After oral administration, it is quickly oxidised into its pharmacologically active metabolite albendazole sulfoxide and then to sulfone. However, it is not clear which compound is responsible for toxic effects towards mammalian cells. Material and Methods: The model systems comprised cultures of isolated rat hepatocytes, two hepatoma cell lines (FaO, HepG2), and non-hepatic Balb/c 3T3 line. Cells were exposed for 24, 48, and 72 h to eight concentrations of albendazole ranging from 0.05 to 100 μg/mL. At all three time points cytotoxic effects were assessed by MTT assay and metabolites in the culture media were determined by LC-MS/MS analysis. Results: The effective concentrations EC50-72h showed that Balb/c 3T3 cells were the most sensitive to albendazole (0.2 ±0.1 μg/mL) followed by FaO (1.0 ±0.4 μg/mL), and HepG2 (6.4 ±0.1 μg/mL). In the case of isolated hepatocytes this value could not be attained up to the highest concentration used. Chemical analysis revealed that the concentrations of albendazole in hepatocytes and HepG2 and FaO culture media gradually decreased with incubation time, while the concentrations of its metabolites increased. The metabolism in isolated hepatocytes was dozens of times greater than in HepG2 and FaO cells. Two metabolites (albendazole sulfoxide, albendazole sulfone) were detected in isolated hepatocytes and HepG2 culture medium, one (albendazole sulfoxide) in FaO culture medium and none in Balb/c 3T3. Conclusion: The obtained data indicate that metabolism of albendazole leads to its detoxification. The lower cytotoxic potential of metabolites was confirmed in the independent experiments in this study.
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