Chitosan capsules for colon-specific drug delivery: improvement of insulin absorption from the rat colon

J Pharm Sci. 1997 Sep;86(9):1016-21. doi: 10.1021/js970018g.


The objective of this study was to estimate colon-specific insulin delivery with chitosan capsules. In vitro drug release experiments from chitosan capsules containing 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein (CF) were carried out by the Japan Pharmacopoeia (J. P.) rotating basket method with some slight modifications. The intestinal absorption of insulin was evaluated by measuring the plasma insulin levels and its hypoglycemic effects after oral administration of the chitosan capsules containing insulin and additives. Little release of CF from the capsules was observed in liquid 1, an artificial gastric juice (pH 1), or in liquid 2, an artificial intestinal juice (pH 7). However, the release of CF was markedly increased in the presence of rat cecal contents. A marked absorption of insulin and a corresponding decrease in plasma glucose levels was observed following the oral administration of these capsules that contain 20 IU of insulin and sodium glycocholate (PA% = 3.49%), as compared with the capsules containing only lactose or only 20 IU of insulin (PA% = 1.62%). The hypoglycemic effect started from 8 h after the administration of chitosan capsules when the capsules entered the colon, as evaluated by the transit time experiments with chitosan capsules. These findings suggest that chitosan capsules may be useful carriers for the colon-specific delivery of peptides including insulin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Capsules
  • Cecum / metabolism
  • Chitin / administration & dosage
  • Chitin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Chitosan
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Blood Glucose
  • Capsules
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Chitin
  • Chitosan