Physicochemical space for optimum oral bioavailability: contribution of human intestinal absorption and first-pass elimination

J Med Chem. 2010 Feb 11;53(3):1098-108. doi: 10.1021/jm901371v.


Oral bioavailability (F) is a product of fraction absorbed (Fa), fraction escaping gut-wall elimination (Fg), and fraction escaping hepatic elimination (Fh). In this study, using a database comprised of Fa, Fg, Fh, and F values for 309 drugs in humans, an analysis of the interrelation of physicochemical properties and the individual parameters was carried out in order to define the physicochemical space for optimum human oral bioavailability. Trend analysis clearly indicated molecular weight (MW), ionization state, lipophilicity, polar descriptors, and free rotatable bonds (RB) influence bioavailability. These trends were due to a combination of effects of the properties on Fa and first-pass elimination (Fg and Fh). Higher MW significantly impacted Fa, while Fg and Fh decreased with increasing lipophilicity. Parabolic trends were observed for bioavailability with polar descriptors. Interestingly, RB has a negative effect on all three parameters, leading to its pronounced effect on bioavailability. In conclusion, physicochemical properties influence bioavailability with typically opposing effects on Fa and first-pass elimination. This analysis may provide a rational judgment on the physicochemical space to optimize oral bioavailability.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Biological Availability
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations