High-throughput microplate assay for the determination of drug partition coefficients

Nat Protoc. 2010 Nov;5(11):1823-30. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2010.137. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Partition coefficients (K(p)) of drugs between the phospholipid bilayer and the aqueous phase provide useful information in quantitative structure-activity relationship studies. Hexadecylphosphocholine (HePC) micelles, composed of a zwitterionic hydrophilic surface and a hydrophobic core, mimic the biomembranes and have several advantages over other lipid structures to assess K(p) values. Their preparation is easy, fast and avoids the use of toxic organic solvents, and the output has fewer spectroscopic interferences. Here, we describe a high-throughput microplate protocol for assessing the K(p) of drugs using HePC micelles as membrane models and derivative spectrophotometry as the detection technique. Moreover, the time-consuming data treatment to assess K(p) values is easily performed by a dedicated Excel routine developed here and described in detail. The K(p) values of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (acemetacin, clonixin, diclofenac and indomethacin) were determined to show the simplicity of the method and to validate this protocol, which provides K(p) values (n = 3) of two drugs in ∼ 2 h.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • High-Throughput Screening Assays*
  • Micelles
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Water / chemistry


  • Micelles
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Water