Segmental Dependent Transport of Low Permeability Compounds along the Small Intestine Due to P-Glycoprotein: The Role of Efflux Transport in the Oral Absorption of BCS Class III Drugs Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of P-gp efflux in the in vivo intestinal absorption process of BCS class III P-gp substrates, i.e. high-solubility low-permeability drugs. The in vivo permeability of two H2-antagonists, cimetidine and famotidine, was determined by the single-pass intestinal perfusion model in different regions of the rat small intestine, in the presence or absence of the P-gp inhibitor verapamil. The apical to basolateral (AP−BL) and the BL−AP transport of the compounds in the presence or absence of various efflux transporters inhibitors (verapamil, erythromycin, quinidine, MK-571 and fumitremorgin C) was investigated across Caco-2 cell monolayers. P-gp expression levels in the different intestinal segments were confirmed by immunoblotting. Cimetidine and famotidine exhibited segmental dependent permeability through the gut wall, with decreased Peff in the distal ileum in comparison to the proximal regions of the intestine. Coperfusion of verapamil with the drugs significantly increased the permeability in the ileum, while no significant change in the jejunal permeability was observed. Both drugs exhibited significantly greater BL−AP than AP−BL Caco-2 permeability, indicative of net mucosal secretion. Concentration dependent decrease of this secretion was obtained by the P-gp inhibitors verapamil, erythromycin and quinidine, while no effect was evident by the MRP2 inhibitor MK-571 and the BCRP inhibitor FTC, indicating that P-gp is the transporter mediates the intestinal efflux of cimetidine and famotidine. P-gp levels throughout the intestine were inversely related to the in vivo permeability of the drugs from the different segments. The data demonstrate that for these high-solubility low-permeability P-gp substrates, P-gp limits in vivo intestinal absorption in the distal segments of the small intestine; however P-gp plays a minimal role in the proximal intestinal segments due to significant lower P-gp expression levels in this region.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009