Drug transport in intestine, liver and kidney

Arch Toxicol. 1987;60(1-3):37-42. doi: 10.1007/BF00296944.


Drug transport in intestine, liver and kidney is similar, because in each case transport occurs across a barrier of epithelial cells. However, the physiological conditions differ in each organ: intestinal drug absorption is largely influenced by physicochemical conditions in the intestinal lumen; actual transport across the epithelial barrier occurs mainly by diffusion; carrier-mediated transport plays a subordinate role. In contrast, hepatic uptake is mediated by specific carriers, which transport a wide variety of drugs into the liver cell and then release them either into bile, or back into the portal blood. It is unclear how many carrier systems are involved, how they are organized in the liver cell membrane, and to what extent their substrate specificities overlap. Renal secretion and reabsorption of drugs is mediated by highly active carrier systems for cations and anions. Their cooperative action results in either active reabsorption or active secretion of drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations