Transporters play important roles in tissue distribution and urinary- and biliary-excretion of drugs and transporter molecules involved in those processes have been elucidated well. Furthermore, an involvement of efflux transporters such as P-glycoproteins, multidrug resistance associated protein 2, and breast cancer resistance protein as the intestinal absorption barrier and/or intestinal luminal secretion mechanisms has been demonstrated. However, although there are many suggestions for the contribution of uptake/influx transporters in intestinal absorption of drugs, information on the transporter molecules responsible for the intestinal absorptive process is limited. Among them, most studied absorptive drug transporter is peptide transporter PEPT1. However, utilization of PEPT1 for oral delivery of drugs may not be high due to the chemical structural requirement of PEPT1 limited to peptide-mimetics. Recently, organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) family such as OATP1A2 and OATP2B1 has been suggested to mediate intestinal absorption of several drugs. Since OATPs exhibit species difference in expressed tissues and functional properties between human and animals, human studies are essential to clarify the intestinal absorption mechanisms of drugs via OATPs. Recent pharmacogenomic studies demonstrated that OATP2B1 is involved in the drug absorption in human. In addition, information of drug-juice interaction in the intestine also uncovered the contribution of OATP1A2 and OATP2B1 in drug absorption. Since OATP1A2 and OATP2B1 exhibit broader substrate selectivity compared with PEPT1, their potential to be applied for oral delivery should be high. In this review, current understanding of characteristics and contribution as the absorptive transporters of OATPs in small intestine in human is described. Now, it is getting clearer that OATPs have significant roles in intestinal absorption of drugs, therefore, there are higher possibility to utilize OATPs as the tools for oral delivery.
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