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Pharm Res. 1993 Nov;10(11):1553-62.

In vitro evaluation of dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide for colon-specific drug delivery.

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Controlled Release and Biomedical Polymers Department, SRI International, Menlo Park, California 94025.


Dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide is a potential prodrug for colonic delivery of the antiinflammatory corticosteroid dexamethasone. Previous studies [T. R. Tozer et al., Pharm. Res. 8:445-454 (1991)] indicated that a glucoside prodrug of dexamethasone was susceptible to hydrolysis in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Resistance of dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide to hydrolysis in the upper gastrointestinal tract was therefore assessed. Conventional, germfree, and colitic rats were used to examine enzyme levels along the gastrointestinal tract to compare the stability of two model substrates (p-nitrophenyl-beta-D-glucoside and -beta-D-glucuronide) and to evaluate the prodrug dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide. Hydrolytic activity was examined in the luminal contents, mucosa, and underlying muscle/connective tissues in all three types of rats. Enzymatic activity (beta-D-glucosidase and beta-D-glucuronidase) was greatest in the lumen of cecum and colon of conventional rats. In contrast, germ-free rats exhibited relatively high levels of beta-D-glucosidase activity (about 80% of total activity in the conventional rats) in the proximal small intestine (PSI) and the distal small intestine (DSI). Rats with induced colitis (acetic acid) showed reduced levels of luminal beta-D-glucuronidase activity in the large intestine; however, beta-D-glucosidase activity was relatively unchanged relative to that of the conventional rat. Mucosal beta-D-glucuronidase activity was significantly lower in the colitic rats compared with that in the conventional animals. Despite reduced luminal levels of beta-D-glucuronidase activity in the colitic rats, there was still a sharp gradient of activity between the small and the large intestines. Permeability of the glucoside and glucuronide prodrugs of dexamethasone through a monolayer of Caco-2 cells was relatively low compared to that of dexamethasone. The results indicate that dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide should be relatively stable and poorly absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Once the compound reaches the large intestine, it should be hydrolyzed to dexamethasone and glucuronic acid. Specificity of colonic delivery in humans should be even greater due to lower levels of beta-D-glucuronidase activity in the small intestine compared with that in the laboratory rat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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