Hepatic uptake and biliary excretion of organic cations--I. Characterization of three new model compounds

Biochem Pharmacol. 1984 Dec 15;33(24):3977-90. doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(84)90011-x.


Three quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) with different lipophilicity, triethylmethyl ammonium iodide (TEMA), tripropylmethyl ammonium iodide (TPMA) and tri-n-butylmethyl ammonium iodide (TBuMA) were given as a bolus injection of 10 mumole and 1 mumole in an isolated perfused liver. TPMA and TBuMA exhibited saturation kinetics at a dose of 10 mumole, but not when 1 mumole of the agents was given. Biliary clearance of TEMA was equal to the bile flow (0.010 ml/min), whereas for TPMA and TBuMA much higher values of 0.8 ml/min and 2.2 ml/min were found respectively. Partition coefficients of TEMA, TPMA and TBuMA between n-octanol and Krebsbicarbonate solution were 0.0013, 0.013 and 0.14 respectively. Liver-to-plasma concentration ratios were 4, 16 and 30 in the post-distribution phase, whereas bile-to-liver ratios were calculated to be 0.1, 1.3 and 14 respectively. The latter parameter varied roughly proportionally to the lipophilicity of the compounds. The liver/plasma concentration ratios corrected for intracellular binding exceeded a value of 12 indicating that accumulation in the liver of these agents cannot soley be explained by passive equilibration according to the membrane potential. Transport from liver into the bile of TPMA and TBuMA presumably also occurred against an electrochemical gradient. It was inferred that the small molecular weight compounds such as TEMA, can be transported from plasma into bile paracellularly by a passive process. Rapid uptake into the liver of such compounds may not lead to an appreciable biliary output and can even reduce the rate of biliary excretion. QACs with intermediate or high lipophilicity are transported by carrier mediated processes both at the level of hepatocyte uptake and bile canalicular transport. The influence of choleresis on hepato-biliary transport of the three QACs was investigated by giving sodium taurocholate (Tc) by constant infusion of 60 mumole/hr, increasing bile flow from 9 to 16 microliter/min. The biliary output of TEMA appeared to be basically unaffected, whereas the biliary excretion of TPMA and TBuMA was clearly elevated when the bile flow was increased. The stimulatory influence of taurocholate on the biliary output of the latter organic cations is explained by an increased net uptake of these agents into the liver and an increased net canalicular transport. This effect is proposed to be due to a reduced reabsorption from the biliary tree as a consequence of the higher bile flow and/or biliary micelle binding. Taurocholate increased liver-to-plasma ratios.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile / metabolism*
  • Cations
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Taurocholic Acid / pharmacology


  • Cations
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • triethylmethylammonium
  • tri-n-butylmethylammonium
  • tripropylmethylammonium
  • Taurocholic Acid