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Pharm Res. 1995 Nov;12(11):1573-82.

Does fluid flow across the intestinal mucosa affect quantitative oral drug absorption? Is it time for a reevaluation?

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Department of Pharmacy, Uppsala University, Sweden.



Hydrophilic and charged solutes have a lower membrane permeability which is due to a lower partition into the lipid membrane (low solubility in the membrane phase) and/or a slower transcellular diffusion coefficient. They are therefore anticipated to be absorbed through the paracellular route, which is a consequence of diffusion and a convective volume flow through the water-filled intercellular space.


Two approaches have been used to investigate the mechanisms underlying the paracellular drug transport across the intestinal mucosa: (a) including water transport by exposing the apical side of the epithelium with a hypotonic solution, and (b) stimulated paracellular transport by widening of tight junction and increased water absorption as a consequence of the sodium-coupled transport of nutrients.


Among the first studies that recognized this fluid flux dependent transmucosal transport of drugs, was one published by Oschenfahrt & Winne in 1973 and the one by Kitazawa et al. in 1975. During the last two decades the importance of this paracellular route for drug delivery have been explored in vitro and in situ.


The limits concerning molecular weight, shape, ionization and the effect of physiological stimulants, such as luminal concentrations of nutrients, osmolality and motility, are currently under investigation. However, recently published in vivo human data by ourselves and others indicate that the promising results obtained in vitro and in situ for various hydrophilic compounds might not be valid in quantitative aspects in humans, especially not for drugs with a molecular weight over 200.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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