Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of amino acid transporters in the transcorneal permeation of the aspartate (Asp) ester acyclovir (ACV) prodrug.
Methods: Physicochemical characterization, solubility and stability of acyclovir L-aspartate (L-Asp-ACV) and acyclovir D-aspartate (D-Asp-ACV) were studied. Transcorneal permeability was evaluated across excised rabbit cornea.
Results: Solubility of L-Asp-ACV and D-Asp-ACV were about twofold higher than that of ACV. The prodrugs demonstrated greater stability under acidic conditions. Calculated pK(a) and logP values for both prodrugs were identical. Transcorneal permeability of L-Asp-ACV (12.1 +/- 1.48 x 10(-6) cm/s) was fourfold higher than D-Asp-ACV (3.12 +/- 0.36 x 10(-6) cm/s) and ACV (3.25 +/- 0.56 x 10(-6) cm/s). ACV generation during the transport process was minimal. L-Asp-ACV transport was sodium and energy dependent but was not inhibited by glutamic acid. Addition of BCH, a specific B(0,+) and L amino acid transporter inhibitor, decreased transcorneal L-Asp-ACV permeability to 2.66 +/- 0.21 x 10(-6) cm/s. L-Asp-ACV and D-Asp-ACV did not demonstrate significant difference in stability in ocular tissue homogenates.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that enhanced transport of L-Asp-ACV is as a result of corneal transporter involvement (probably amino acid transporter B(0,+)) and not as a result of changes in physicochemical properties due to prodrug derivatization (permeability of D-Asp-ACV and ACV were not significantly different).