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Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2006 Apr;27(3):111-7.

Brain pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of tetrahydropalmatine enantiomers in rats after oral administration of the racemate.

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School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Metabolites Research, Shanghai, PR China.


Tetrahydropalmatine (THP), a racemic mixture, is a biologically active ingredient isolated from a traditional Chinese herb Rhizoma Corydalis (yanhusuo). The main objective of this study was to determine the brain pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of THP enantiomers in rats after oral administration of racemic THP (rac-THP). Rats (5 animals/group/per time) were given a single oral dose of rac-THP and killed after different post-treatment times. The concentrations of THP enantiomers in plasma, cortex, cerebellum, diencephalon, brain stem, striatum and hippocampus were measured using a validated chiral high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method coupled with an achiral column. The pharmacokinetic profiles of the two enantiomers in six brain regions were significantly different. The peak concentrations (Cmax) and AUC(0-infinity) values of the (-)-enantiomer were significantly greater than the corresponding values for the (+)-enantiomer while the striatum contained the highest peak concentrations compared with the plasma and other brain regions. The tissue distribution studies also revealed significant differences between the two enantiomers in all tissues except the lung. The highest concentrations of both enantiomers were found in the liver. The (-)/(+)-THP ratios in six brain regions and other tissues were consistent with that observed in plasma indicating that the stereoselective disposition of THP in rat brain and other tissues reflects the situation in plasma.

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