The gut microbiome influences the bioavailability of olanzapine in rats

EBioMedicine. 2021 Apr:66:103307. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103307. Epub 2021 Apr 2.


Background: The role of the gut microbiome in the biotransformation of drugs has recently come under scrutiny. It remains unclear whether the gut microbiome directly influences the extent of drug absorbed after oral administration and thus potentially alters clinical pharmacokinetics.

Methods: In this study, we evaluated whether changes in the gut microbiota of male Sprague Dawley rats, as a result of either antibiotic or probiotic administration, influenced the oral bioavailability of two commonly prescribed antipsychotics, olanzapine and risperidone.

Findings: The bioavailability of olanzapine, was significantly increased (1.8-fold) in rats that had undergone antibiotic-induced depletion of gut microbiota, whereas the bioavailability of risperidone was unchanged. There was no direct effect of microbiota depletion on the expression of major CYP450 enzymes involved in the metabolism of either drug. However, the expression of UGT1A3 in the duodenum was significantly downregulated. The reduction in faecal enzymatic activity, observed during and after antibiotic administration, did not alter the ex vivo metabolism of olanzapine or risperidone. The relative abundance of Alistipes significantly correlated with the AUC of olanzapine but not risperidone.

Interpretation: Alistipes may play a role in the observed alterations in olanzapine pharmacokinetics. The gut microbiome might be an important variable determining the systemic bioavailability of orally administered olanzapine. Additional research exploring the potential implication of the gut microbiota on the clinical pharmacokinetics of olanzapine in humans is warranted.

Funding: This research is supported by APC Microbiome Ireland, a research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), through the Irish Government's National Development Plan (grant no. 12/RC/2273 P2) and by Nature Research-Yakult (The Global Grants for Gut Health; Ref No. 626891).

Keywords: Antipsychotic; Bioavailability; CYP; Diversity; Microbiome; Pharmacokinetics.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Biodiversity
  • Biological Availability
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Male
  • Molecular Structure
  • Olanzapine / administration & dosage
  • Olanzapine / chemistry
  • Olanzapine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Probiotics
  • Rats
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Olanzapine