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Pharm Res. 2003 Apr;20(4):624-31.

Cell handling, membrane-binding properties, and membrane-penetration modeling approaches of pivampicillin and phthalimidomethylampicillin, two basic esters of ampicillin, in comparison with chloroquine and azithromycin.

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Unité de pharmacologie cellulaire et moléculaire, Université Catholique de Louvain, 73-70, avenue E. Mounier, 73, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.



The purpose of this work was to examine and understand the cellular pharmacokinetics of two basic esters of ampicillin, pivaloyloxymethyl (PIVA) and phthalimidomethyl (PIMA), in comparison with lysosomotropic drugs (chloroquine, azithromycin).


Cell culture studies (J774 macrophages) were undertaken to study uptake and release kinetics and to assess the influence of concentration, pH, proton ionophore (monensin), and MRP and P-gp inhibitors (probenecid, gemfibrozil, cyclosporin A, GF 120918). Equilibrium dialysis with liposomes were performed to directly asses the extent of drug binding to bilayers. Conformational analysis modeling of the drug penetration in bilayers was conducted to rationalize the experimental observations.


PIVA and PIMA showed properties in almost complete contrast with those of chloroquine and azithromycin, i.e., fast apparent accumulation and fast release at 4 degrees C as well as at 37 degrees C, saturation of uptake (apparent Kd 40 microM), no influence of monensin, MRP, or P-gp inhibitors; tight binding to liposomes (Kd approx. 40 microM); and sharp increase in calculated free energy when forced in the hydrophobic domain.


Although they are weak organic bases, PIVA and PIMA show none of the properties of lysosomotropic agents. We hypothesize that they remain locked onto the pericellular membrane and may never penetrate cells as such in significant amounts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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