Development of a Novel Oral Cavity Compartmental Absorption and Transit Model for Sublingual Administration: Illustration With Zolpidem

AAPS J. 2015 May;17(3):631-42. doi: 10.1208/s12248-015-9727-7. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


Intraoral (IO) delivery is an alternative administration route to deliver a drug substance via the mouth that provides several advantages over conventional oral dosage forms. The purpose of this work was to develop and evaluate a novel, physiologically based oral cavity model for projection and mechanistic analysis of the clinical pharmacokinetics of intraoral formulations. The GastroPlus™ Oral Cavity Compartmental Absorption and Transit (OCCAT™) model was used to simulate the plasma concentration versus time profiles and the fraction and rate of intraoral drug transit/absorption for Intermezzo® sublingual tablets (zolpidem tartrate). The model was evaluated by the goodness-of-fit between simulated and observed concentrations and the deviation of key PK parameters (e.g., C max, T max, and AUC). In addition, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to demonstrate the interplay and impact of key modeling parameters on the fraction absorbed via oral mucosa (F a_IO). The OCCAT™ model captured the observed pharmacokinetics for Intermezzo® sublingual tablets (R (2) > 0.9). The predicted deviations (%) for C max, AUC0-inf, AUC0-20 min, and T max were 5.7, 28.0, 11.8, and 28.6%, respectively, indicating good prediction accuracy. The model also estimated ~18% of total drug was absorbed via the IO route. Furthermore, the sensitivity analysis indicated that the F a_IO was not only associated with drug diffusivity and unbound fraction in epithelium tissue (f ut) but also depended on the physicochemical properties of compounds for IO delivery (e.g., solubility and logD pH = 7.4). The novel physiologically based IO absorption OCCAT™ model showed satisfactory performance and will be helpful to guide development of future intraoral formulations.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Area Under Curve
  • Computer Simulation
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacokinetics*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mouth / metabolism
  • Mouth Mucosa / metabolism
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage
  • Pyridines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Solubility
  • Tablets
  • Zolpidem


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Pyridines
  • Tablets
  • Zolpidem