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Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(1):54-8.

Involvement of specific transport system on uptake of lactone form of SN-38 in human intestinal epithelial cell line Caco-2.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Biopharmaceutics, Graduate School of Medicine, Mie University, Edobashi, Tsu, Mie 514–8507, Japan.


The aim of this study was to elucidate the characteristics of the transport of lactone and carboxylate forms of SN-38 (SN-38L and SN-38C, respectively), a metabolite of irinotecan hydrochloride (CPT-11), with the human intestinal epithelial cell line, Caco-2. We examined SN-38L and SN-38C uptake from the apical side into Caco-2, and the effects of various compounds on the uptake of SN-38L. SN-38L and SN-38C in the cells were determined by HPLC with a fluorescence detector. When either SN-38L (0.5 µM) or SN-38C (0.5 µM) was added extracellularly at 37°C, the accumulation of SN-38L into the cells was about 10-fold higher than that of SN-38C, suggesting a dominant role of the lactone form in the uptake of SN-38 into Caco-2. The accumulation of SN-38L in Caco-2 increased time-dependently up to 10 min at 37°C, whereas the accumulation markedly decreased at 4°C. The initial uptake rate of SN-38L approached saturation at high concentrations with Michaelis-Menten constant and 'Hill coefficient,' 2.84±1.00 μM and 2.13±1.14, respectively (mean±S.E.). The accumulation of SN-38L was markedly inhibited by baicalin, an active ingredient of a Chinese herbal medicine, Hange-Shashin-To, as well as CPT-11. The type of inhibition by baicalin was competitive. In contrast, concomitant sulfobromophthalein, taurocholate and estrone 3-sulfate significantly increased SN-38L uptake. These results suggest that apical uptake of SN-38 by Caco-2 is dominantly performed as a lactone form through a specific transporter, which is competitively inhibited by baicalin.

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