Characterization of the regional intestinal kinetics of drug efflux in rat and human intestine and in Caco-2 cells

Pharm Res. 1998 Aug;15(8):1160-7. doi: 10.1023/a:1011971303880.


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate the transport kinetics of intestinal secretory processes in the jejunum, ileum and colon of rats and humans and in Caco-2 cells, in vitro.

Methods: Etoposide, vinblastine sulphate and verapamil hydrochloride were chosen as model substrates since they have been reported to undergo efflux in various other tissues. The concentration dependence, inhibition, directionality, temperature dependence, proton/sodium dependence, and ATP dependence of efflux were studied using side-by-side diffusion chambers and brush border membrane vesicles (BBMVs). Intestinal tissue from rats and humans and Caco-2 cells (passage no. 26) were used. Directional steady state effective permeabilities were calculated from drug appearance in the apical (AP) or basolateral (BL) chambers. Kinetic studies were carried out by investigating substrate efflux at concentrations ranging from 0.2 microns to 1000 microns. Since substrate efflux may be a result of more than one transporter, the hybrid efflux Km (Michaelis-constant), Pc (carrier-mediated permeability), and Pm (passive permeability) were determined as a function of intestinal region. Inhibitor studies were performed using quinidine (0.2mM), a mixed inhibitor of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) and Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein (MRP), and Leukotriene C4 (100 nM), an inhibitor of MRP and the canalicular multispecific organic anion transporter (cMOAT). Temperature dependent efflux was determined by investigating the BL to AP transport at temperatures ranging from 3 degrees C to 37 degrees C. Energies of activation (Ea) were determined from an Arrhenius analysis. Sodium, proton, and ATP dependence were determined using BBMVs. Immunoquantitation of Pgp, MRP and Lung Resistance Protein (LRP) in Caco-2 cells were carried out using Western blot analysis.

Results: Active efflux of all substrates was observed in all regions of rat and human intestine and in Caco-2 cells. Directionality was observed with BL to AP transport exceeding AP to BL transport. The BL to AP/AP to BL permeability ratio, the efflux ratio, ranged from 1.4 to 19.8. Ileal efflux was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than in other regions. Kinetic studies revealed that hybrid efflux Km values ranged from 4 to 350 microns. In some cases, efflux was not saturable due to the solubility limits of the compounds utilized in this study. In presence of inhibitors, efflux ratios approached 1. BL to AP transport was temperature dependent in rat ileum for all substrates. Each of the intestinal efflux was found to be 11.6, 8.3, and 15.8 kcal/mole for etoposide, vinblastine and verapamil, respectively, suggesting an active, energy-dependent efflux mechanism. Substrate efflux was not sodium or proton dependent but was dependent on ATP. Using Western blot analysis the presence of Pgp, MRP, and LRP was demonstrated in Caco-2 cells and the amount of each transport protein varied as a function of passage number.

Conclusions: Using multiple putative efflux substrates, the current results demonstrate that intestinal efflux was regionally dependent, mediated by multiple efflux transporters, the Km's were in the micro-molar range, and involved an energy dependent mechanism(s).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Etoposide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Ileum / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Jejunum / metabolism
  • Protons
  • Rats
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Verapamil / pharmacokinetics*
  • Vinblastine / pharmacokinetics*


  • Protons
  • Vinblastine
  • Etoposide
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Sodium
  • Verapamil