Innovative methods to study human intestinal drug metabolism in vitro: precision-cut slices compared with ussing chamber preparations

Drug Metab Dispos. 2006 Nov;34(11):1893-902. doi: 10.1124/dmd.106.011148. Epub 2006 Aug 16.


Predictive in vitro methods to investigate drug metabolism in the human intestine using intact tissue are of high importance. Therefore, we studied the metabolic activity of human small intestinal and colon slices and compared it with the metabolic activity of the same human intestinal segments using the Ussing chamber technique. The metabolic activity was evaluated using substrates to both phase I and phase II reactions: testosterone, 7-hydroxycoumarin (7HC), and a mixture of cytochrome P450 (P450) substrates (midazolam, diclofenac, coumarin, and bufuralol). In slices of human proximal jejunum, the metabolic activity of several P450-mediated and conjugation reactions remained constant up to4hof incubation. In the colon slices, conjugation rates were virtually equal to those in small intestine, whereas P450-mediated conversions occurred much slower. In both organs, morphological evaluation and ATP content implied tissue integrity within this period. P450 conversions using the Ussing chamber technique showed that the metabolic rate (sum of metabolites measured in apical, basolateral, and tissue compartments) was constant up to 3 h. For 7HC conjugations, the metabolic rate remained constant up to 4 h. The distribution of the metabolites in the compartments differed between the substrates. Overall, metabolic rates were surprisingly similar in both techniques and appear similar to or even higher than in liver. In conclusion, this study shows that both human intestinal precision-cut slices and Ussing chamber preparations provide useful tools for in vitro biotransformation studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / analysis
  • Colon / enzymology
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / enzymology
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase I
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase II
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System