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Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2013 Sep;85(1):26-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2013.03.010.

Mechanistic basis for unexpected bioavailability enhancement of polyelectrolyte complexes incorporating BCS class III drugs and carrageenans.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Technology & Biopharmaceutics, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.


The objective of this study was to investigate the potential of λ-carrageenan to work as an absorption modifying excipient in combination with formulations of BCS class 3 substances. Trospium chloride was used as a model BCS class 3 substance. Polyelectrolyte complexes of trospium and λ-carrageenan were produced by layer-by-layer complexation. A λ-carrageenan-containing formulation was administered either in capsules size 9 to rats by gavage or directly into ligated intestinal loops of rats. Exceptionally strong variations were observed in the plasma concentrations of the rats that received λ-carrageenan compared to the control group, but enhanced plasma concentrations were observed only in some of the rats. In vitro permeability studies were performed across Caco2-monolayers and across excised segments of rat jejunum in a modified Ussing chamber to learn more about the mechanism of absorption enhancement. The complex did not show any effect in Caco2-cells, but led to a major enhancement of permeability across excised segments in modified Ussing chambers. Carrageenan did not lead to alterations of tight junctions. The bioavailability enhancing effect thus was most likely due to an interaction of the polyelectrolyte-drug complex with the mucus, which provided an intimate contact between the drug and the absorbing surface. A similar effect was also achievable with other types of carrageenan and was also transferable to other compounds. In conclusion, λ-carrageenan-drug complexes show interesting excipient-drug-epithelium interactions - however, for full utilization of the permeation enhancing potential, an intimate and reproducible contact between absorbing epithelia and the complex is needed.


API; Intestinal loop; KBR; Krebs-Ringer-Bicarbonate-buffer. pH 7.4; Mucoadhesion; P-Glycoprotein; PD; PECs; PGP; Permeation; Polyelectrolyte complexes; R; SDS; TEER; TJs; TPGS; Trospium chloride; Ussing chamber; active pharmaceutical ingredient; polyelectrolyte complexes; potential difference; sodium dodecyl sulfate; tight junctions; tocopheryl polyethylene glycol succinate; transepithelial electrical resistance; transsegmental electrical resistance

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