Intrinsic Clearance Assay Incubational Binding: A Method Comparison

Drug Metab Dispos. 2017 Apr;45(4):342-345. doi: 10.1124/dmd.116.074138. Epub 2017 Jan 25.


The fraction of unbound drug (fuinc) in in vitro intrinsic clearance (CLint) incubation is an important parameter in the pursuit of accurate clearance predictions and is often predicted using algorithms based on drug lipophilicity measures. However, analysis of an AstraZeneca database suggests that simple lipophilicity alone is a relatively poor predictor of fuinc measured using equilibrium dialysis. He fuinc value can also be measured directly in CLint assays using multiple concentrations of hepatocytes or microsomal protein. Since this approach informs of the unbound drug concentration in the assay used to predict in vivo clearance, it should be considered the gold standard method. As a starting point for building better predictive algorithms we aimed to determine if equilibrium dialysis really is an appropriate assay for assessing fuinc Employing a large number of compounds with a wide range of lipophilicities, experiments were performed to measure fuinc using rat hepatocytes (RH) and human liver microsomes (HLM) in both assay formats. A high percentage (94% and 93% for HLM and RH, respectively) of the fuinc values were within 2-fold when the compound distribution coefficient describing the ratio of compound concentration in octanol and pH 7.4 buffer when the test system is at equilibrium (lipophilicity measure) (logD7.4) values were less than 3.5. However, with logD7.4 values greater than these, the agreement was considerably worse. Additional experimental data generated indicated that this discrepancy was likely due to failings in the direct method when drug binding is high. Thus, we conclude that unbound CLint can be indeed calculated indirectly by incorporating equilibrium dialysis data with measured CLint but that simple lipophilicity descriptors alone may be inadequate for predicting fuinc.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Dialysis / methods
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations