Quantitation of small intestinal permeability during normal human drug absorption

David G. Levitt

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21 Scopus citations


Background: Understanding the quantitative relationship between a drug's physical chemical properties and its rate of intestinal absorption (QSAR) is critical for selecting candidate drugs. Because of limited experimental human small intestinal permeability data, approximate surrogates such as the fraction absorbed or Caco-2 permeability are used, both of which have limitations.Methods: Given the blood concentration following an oral and intravenous dose, the time course of intestinal absorption in humans was determined by deconvolution and related to the intestinal permeability by the use of a new 3 parameter model function (" Averaged Model" (AM)). The theoretical validity of this AM model was evaluated by comparing it to the standard diffusion-convection model (DC). This analysis was applied to 90 drugs using previously published data. Only drugs that were administered in oral solution form to fasting subjects were considered so that the rate of gastric emptying was approximately known. All the calculations are carried out using the freely available routine PKQuest Java (http://www.pkquest.com) which has an easy to use, simple interface.Results: Theoretically, the AM permeability provides an accurate estimate of the intestinal DC permeability for solutes whose absorption ranges from 1% to 99%. The experimental human AM permeabilities determined by deconvolution are similar to those determined by direct human jejunal perfusion. The small intestinal pH varies with position and the results are interpreted in terms of the pH dependent octanol partition. The permeability versus partition relations are presented separately for the uncharged, basic, acidic and charged solutes. The small uncharged solutes caffeine, acetaminophen and antipyrine have very high permeabilities (about 20 x 10-4 cm/sec) corresponding to an unstirred layer of only 45 μm. The weak acid aspirin also has a large AM permeability despite its low octanol partition at pH 7.4, suggesting that it is nearly completely absorbed in the first part of the intestine where the pH is about 5.4.Conclusions: The AM deconvolution method provides an accurate estimate of the human intestinal permeability. The results for these 90 drugs should provide a useful benchmark for evaluating QSAR models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34
JournalBMC Pharmacology and Toxicology
StatePublished - Jun 24 2013


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