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J Pharm Sci. 2011 Nov;100(11):4974-85. doi: 10.1002/jps.22674. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

Development of a new permeability assay using low-efflux MDCKII cells.

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Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics and Metabolism, Pfizer Inc., Groton, Connecticut, USA.


Permeability is an important property of drug candidates. The Madin-Darby canine kidney cell line (MDCK) permeability assay is widely used and the primary concern of using MDCK cells is the presence of endogenous transporters of nonhuman origin. The canine P-glycoprotein (Pgp) can interfere with permeability and transporter studies, leading to less reliable data. A new cell line, MDCKII-LE (low efflux), has been developed by selecting a subpopulation of low-efflux cells from MDCKII-WT using an iterative fluorescence-activated cell sorting technique with calcein-AM as a Pgp and efflux substrate. MDCKII-LE cells are a subpopulation of MDCKII cells with over 200-fold lower canine Pgp mRNA level and fivefold lower protein level than MDCKII-WT. MDCKII-LE cells showed less functional efflux activity than MDCKII-WT based on efflux ratios. Notably, MDCKII-MDR1 showed about 1.5-fold decreased expression of endogenous canine Pgp, suggesting that using the net flux ratio might not completely cancel out the background endogenous transporter activities. MDCKII-LE cells offer clear advantages over the MDCKII-WT by providing less efflux transporter background signals and minimizing interference from canine Pgp. The MDCKII-LE apparent permeability values well differentiates compounds from high to medium/low human intestinal absorption and can be used for Biopharmaceutical Classification System. The MDCKII-LE permeability assay (4-in-1 cassette dosing) is high throughput with good precision, reproducibility, robustness, and cost-effective.

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