Purpose: The aim of the present work is to characterize in vitro drug permeation processes across Caco-2 monolayer and to identify the advantages of this cultured cell system in predicting in vivo drug absorption after oral administration.
Methods: The passive permeability of various drugs through Caco-2 monolayer was measured using Ussing-type chambers and compared with that of the isolated rat jejunum and colon. The in vivo drug permeability to the intestinal membrane was estimated by means of an intestinal perfusion study using the rat jejunum.
Results: In Caco-2 monolayer, drug permeability increased with increasing drug lipophilicity and showed a good linear relationship with the in vivo permeability. In contrast, in the isolated jejunum and colon, the permeability of high lipophilic drugs was almost constant and, propranolol, a drug with the highest lipophilicity, hardly passed through the jejunal membrane in vitro. As a result, there was no significant relationship between in vitro and in vivo drug permeability in rat jejunum. However, the amount of drugs accumulated in the jejunal mucosa increased with increasing drug lipophilicity even under the in vitro condition.
Conclusions: The permeation and the accumulation studies suggested that the rate-limiting process of in vitro permeation of lipophilic drugs through the intestinal membrane differs from that of in vivo drug absorption. On the other hand, drug permeation through Caco-2 monolayer, which consists of an epithelial cell layer and a supporting filter, is essentially the same process as that of in vivo drug absorption. We concluded that the simple monolayer structure of a cultured cell system provides a distinct advantage in predicting in vivo drug absorption.