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Mol Pharm. 2013 Apr 1;10(4):1378-87. doi: 10.1021/mp300647m. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Propylene glycol-linked amino acid/dipeptide diester prodrugs of oleanolic acid for PepT1-mediated transport: synthesis, intestinal permeability, and pharmacokinetics.

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State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, P. R. China.


In our previous studies, ethylene glycol-linked amino acid diester prodrugs of oleanolic acid (OA), a Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) class IV drug, designed to target peptide transporter 1 (PepT1) have been synthesized and evaluated. Unlike ethylene glycol, propylene glycol is of very low toxicity in vivo. In this study, propylene glycol was used as a linker to further compare the effect of the type of linker on the stability, permeability, affinity, and bioavailability of the prodrugs of OA. Seven diester prodrugs with amino acid/dipeptide promoieties containing L-Val ester (7a), L-Phe ester (7b), L-Ile ester (7c), D-Val-L-Val ester (9a), L-Val-L-Val ester (9b), L-Ala-L-Val ester (9c), and L-Ala-L-Ile ester (9d) were designed and successfully synthesized. In situ rat single-pass intestinal perfusion (SPIP) model was performed to screen the effective permeability (P(eff)) of the prodrugs. P(eff) of 7a, 7b, 7c, 9a, 9b, 9c, and 9d (6.7-fold, 2.4-fold, 1.24-fold, 1.22-fold, 4.15-fold, 2.2-fold, and 1.4-fold, respectively) in 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid buffer (MES) with pH 6.0 showed significant increase compared to that of OA (p < 0.01). In hydroxyethyl piperazine ethanesulfonic acid buffer (HEPES) of pH 7.4, except for 7c, 9a, and 9d, P(eff) of the other prodrugs containing 7a (5.2-fold), 7b (2.0-fold), 9b (3.1-fold), and 9c (1.7-fold) exhibited significantly higher values than that of OA (p < 0.01). In inhibition studies with glycyl-sarcosine (Gly-Sar, a typical substrate of PepT1), P(eff) of 7a (5.2-fold), 7b (2.0-fold), 9b (3.1-fold), and 9c (2.3-fold) had significantly reduced values (p < 0.01). Compared to the apparent permeability coefficient (P(app)) of OA with Caco-2 cell monolayer, significant enhancement of the P(app) of 7a (5.27-fold), 9b (3.31-fold), 9a (2.26-fold), 7b (2.10-fold), 7c (2.03-fold), 9c (1.87-fold), and 9d (1.39-fold) was also observed (p < 0.01). Inhibition studies with Gly-Sar (1 mM) showed that P(app) of 7a, 9b, and 9c significantly reduced by 1.3-fold, 1.6-fold, and 1.4-fold (p < 0.01), respectively. These results may be attributed to PepT1-mediated transport and their differential affinity toward PepT1. According to the permeability and affinity, 7a and 9b were selected in the pharmacokinetic studies in rats. Compared with group OA, C(max) for group 7a and 9b was enhanced to 3.04-fold (p < 0.01) and 2.62-fold (p < 0.01), respectively. AUC(0→24) was improved to 3.55-fold (p < 0.01) and 3.39-fold (p < 0.01), respectively. Compared to the ethylene glycol-linked amino acid diester prodrugs of OA in our previous work, results from this study revealed that part of the propylene glycol-linked amino acid/dipeptide diester prodrugs showed better stability, permeability, affinity, and bioavailability. In conclusion, propylene glycol-linked amino acid/dipeptide diester prodrugs of OA may be suitable for PepT1-targeted prodrugs of OA to improve the oral bioavailability of OA.

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