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Eur J Pharm Sci. 2007 Mar;30(3-4):324-32. Epub 2006 Dec 9.

Drug permeability across a phospholipid vesicle based barrier: 3. Characterization of drug-membrane interactions and the effect of agitation on the barrier integrity and on the permeability.

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  • 1University of Tromsø, Institute of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutics & Biopharmaceutics, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway.


Recently, we reported on the development and structural characterization of a phospholipid vesicle based barrier useful for medium throughput screening of passive drug permeability. Here, we investigate the physical and functional integrity of the phospholipid vesicle based barriers to agitation by stirring or shaking, and whether agitation affects drug permeability of sulpiride, metoprolol and testosterone. In addition, three drugs (caffeine, naproxen and sulphasalazine) which were shown in a previous study to affect the electrical resistance of the barriers, were investigated for their influence on the permeability of a simultaneously applied hydrophilic marker (calcein), and on the thermotropic phase transition of the phospholipid bilayers using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Electrical resistance measurements indicated that the barriers should withstand shaking speeds up to 150rpm without losing their integrity, but significant release of phospholipids from the membrane barriers to the donor and acceptor chambers was observed under agitation >or=150rpm. When using agitation up to 100rpm no increase in permeability was observed for sulpiride, metoprolol and testosterone. The phospholipid vesicle-based barrier thus differ from other permeability models in that agitation does not lead to an increase in permeability, not even for highly lipophilic drugs such as testosterone. This is explained by the different morphology of the vesicle-based barrier which is containing a 100microm thick layer of mostly aqueous compartments immobilised within a matrix of phospholipids vesicles. Sulphasalazine and naproxen were shown to decrease the electrical resistance and increase the permeability of the hydrophilic marker calcein. The DSC experiments showed that these two drugs probably interact with the head groups of the phospholipids. In contrast, caffeine gave an increase in electrical resistance and a decrease in permeability of calcein. From the DSC experiments no signs of interaction of caffeine with the phospholipid bilayer could be observed.

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