Pulmonary Drug Absorption : In vitro and in vivo investigations of drug absorption across the lung barrier and its relation to drug physicochemical properties

Abstract: Although, pulmonary drug delivery is a well established means for targeting of drugs to the lungs for the treatment of respiratory diseases as well as for the systemic delivery of volatile anesthetic agents, drug absorption kinetics in the lung have not been subjected to extensive research. The main objective of this thesis was to investigate drug absorption characteristics of the lung barrier, using the isolated and perfused rat lung model and in vivo pharmacokinetic studies in rats. Physicochemically diverse drugs (i.e. atenolol, budesonide, cromolyn, cyanocobalamin, enalapril, enalaprilate, formoterol, imipramine, losartan, metoprolol, propranolol, talinolol, terbutaline, and the tetrapeptide TArPP) were used as model compounds. In connection to these investigations, a nebulization catheter device was successfully adapted and evaluated as a new technique for delivery of defined aerosol doses to the rat lung. In addition, a physicochemical profile of the inhaled drugs on the market worldwide during 2001 was made.The pulmonary first-order absorption rate constant and bioavailability were found to correlate to the drug lipophilicity, the molecular polar surface area, and the apparent permeability of Caco-2 cell monolayers. In contrast to the intestinal mucosa and the blood-brain barrier, the pulmonary epithelium was highly permeable to drugs with a high molecular polar surface area. Accordingly, a small hydrophilic tetrapeptide (oral bioavailability ~0.5%) showed a complete bioavailability after pulmonary delivery to rats in vivo. Regional differences in bioavailability, absorption rate, and first-pass metabolism of the peptide was demonstrated after targeted delivery to different regions of the respiratory tract in rats in vivo. The high pulmonary bioavailability of the efflux transporter substrates losartan and talinolol provides functional evidence for an insignificant role of efflux transporters such as P-glycoprotein in limiting the absorption of these drugs from the rat lung. The results of this thesis demonstrate that the lung efficiently absorbs drugs with a wide range of lipophilicity. The pulmonary route should thus be regarded as a potential alternative for administration of drugs with low oral bioavailability. In addition, drug inhalation present an opportunity to attain a more rapid onset of drug action than can be attained by the oral route.