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Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2006 Nov;64(3):369-78. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

Drug adsorption to plastic containers and retention of drugs in cultured cells under in vitro conditions.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.


Loss of drug content during cell culture transport experiment can lead to misinterpretations in permeability analysis. This study analyses drug adsorption to various plastic containers and drug retention in cultured cells under in vitro conditions. The loss of various drugs to polystyrene tubes and well plates was compared to polypropylene and glass tubes both in deionised water and buffer solution. In cellular uptake experiments, administered drugs were obtained from cultured cells by liquid extraction. Samples were collected at various time points and drug concentrations were measured by a new HPLC-MS/MS method. Acidic drugs (hydrochlorothiazide, naproxen, probenicid, and indomethacin) showed little if any sorption to all tested materials in either water or buffer. In the case of basic drugs, substantial loss to polystyrene tubes and well plates was observed. After 4.5 h, the relative amount remaining in aqueous test solution stored in polystyrene tubes was 64.7 +/- 6.8%, 38.4 +/- 9.1%, 31.9 +/- 6.7%, and 23.5 +/- 6.1% for metoprolol, medetomidine, propranolol, and midazolam, respectively. Interestingly, there was no significant loss of drugs dissolved in buffer to any of the tested materials indicating that buffer reduced surficial interaction. The effect of drug concentration to sorption was also tested. Results indicated that the higher the concentration in the test solution the lower the proportional drug loss, suggesting that the polystyrene contained a limited amount of binding sites. Cellular uptake studies showed considerable retention of drugs in cultured cells. The amounts of absorbed drugs in cellular structures were 0.45%, 4.88%, 13.15%, 43.80%, 23.57% and 11.22% for atenolol, metoprolol, medetomidine, propranolol, midazolam, and diazepam, respectively. Overall, these findings will benefit development and validation of further in vitro drug permeation experiments.

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