Synthesis and Pharmacokinetic Profile of Rhein- Boswellic Acid Conjugate

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2012 Dec 15;22(24):7582-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.10.017. Epub 2012 Oct 11.


Rhein, an active metabolite of diacerein, down-regulates the gene-expression and production of pro-matrix metalloproteinases and up-regulates the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase-1 production. The therapeutic effects of diacerein on osteoarthritis are, at least in part, due to the chondroprotective effect of rhein. Boswellic acid is a specific, non-redox inhibitor of leukotriene synthesis. It is claimed to possess good anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, analgesic, and anti-ulcer activities. It prevents the destruction of articular cartilage by decreasing degradation of glycosaminoglycans. Therefore, rhein and boswellic acid were linked chemically through a bioreversible ester linkage to synthesize their mutual prodrug by reported procedure. In vitro release profile of this prodrug was extensively studied in aqueous buffers of varied pH, upper GIT homogenates and 80% human plasma. In vivo release studies were undertaken in blood, urine and feces of rats. The prodrug was stable in HCl buffer (pH 1.2) and stomach homogenates of rats. However; in phosphate buffer (pH 7.4) and in intestinal homogenates the prodrug exhibited 91% and 96% release of rhein and 27.5% and 38% release of boswellic acid respectively over a period of 6h following first order kinetics. In 80% human plasma (in vitro) and rat blood (in vivo) also 96.35% and 91% release of rhein and 78% and 86.41% release of boswellic acid respectively was observed. The 24 h pooled samples of rat urine revealed presence of 6.2% intact prodrug, 7.1% of rhein and 8.9% of boswellic acid indicating their renal excretion. Samples of rat feces pooled over a period of 24 h showed absence of rhein and presence of 3.1% of intact boswellic acid and 4.6% of boswellic acid emphasizing their intestinal excretion. The in vivo release kinetics of prodrug in rat clearly indicated activation of prodrug to be occurring in blood, being catalyzed by the weak alkaline pH of blood (7.4) in combination with esterases present therein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones / blood
  • Anthraquinones / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anthraquinones / urine
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Prodrugs / chemistry
  • Prodrugs / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Triterpenes / blood
  • Triterpenes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Triterpenes / urine


  • Anthraquinones
  • Prodrugs
  • Triterpenes
  • boswellic acid
  • rhein