New Approaches to Studies of Paracellular Drug Transport in Intestinal Epithelial Cell Monolayers

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Studies of intestinal drug permeability have traditionally been performed in the colon-derived Caco-2 cell model. However, the permeability of these cell monolayers resembles that of the colon rather than that of the small intestine, which is the major site of drug absorption following oral administration. One aim of this thesis was therefore to develop a new cell culture model that mimics the permeability of the small intestine. 2/4/A1 cells are conditionally immortalized with a temperature sensitive mutant of SV40T. These cells proliferate and form multilayers at 33°C. At cultivation temperatures of 37 – 39°C, they stop proliferating and form monolayers. 2/4/A1 cells cultivated on permeable supports expressed functional tight junctions. The barrier properties of the tight junctions such as transepithelial electrical resistance and permeability to hydrophilic markers resembled those of the human small intestine in vivo. These cells lacked functional expression of drug transport proteins and can therefore be used as a model to study passive drug permeability unbiased by active transport. The permeability to diverse sets of drugs in 2/4/A1 was comparable to that of the human jejunum for both incompletely and completely absorbed drugs, and the prediction of human intestinal permeability was better in 2/4/A1 than in Caco-2 for incompletely absorbed drugs. The small intestinal-like paracellular permeability of 2/4/A1 thus enables better predictions of drug permeability in the small intestine than does Caco-2. The studies of the paracellular route and its importance for intestinal drug permeability was also in focus in the second part of this thesis, in which a new principle for tight junction modulation was developed, based on the primary structure of the extracellular tight junction protein occludin. Peptides corresponding to the N-terminus of the first extracellular loop increased the permeability of the tight junctions, but lacked apical effect. This problem was solved by conjugation of one peptide to a lipoamino acid, resulting in two diastereomers with different effects. The L-isomer had a sustained apical effect, while that of the D-isomer was transient. In conclusion, conjugated occludin peptides constitute a new class of tight junction modulators that can enhance the tight junction permeability.