Uptake and transport of orally-deliverable drugs across caco-2 cell monolayers
: the effect of lipid formulations

  • Emma L. Bradbury

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this thesis is to investigate the physicochemical parameters which can influence drug loading within liposomes and to characterise the effect such formulations have on drug uptake and transport across in vitro epithelial barrier models. Liposomes composed of phosphatidylcholine (PC) or distearoyl phosphatidylcholine (DSPC) and cholesterol (0, 4, 8, 16 µM) were prepared and optimised in terms of drug loading using the hand-shaking method (Bangham et al., 1965). Subsequently, liposomes composed of 16 µM PC or DSPC and cholesterol (4 µM) were used to monitor hydroxybenzoate release and transport from Iiposomes. The MIT (3[4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) and crystal violet assays were employed to determine toxicity of the Iiposome. formulations towards the Caco-2 cell line, employed to model the epithelial barrier in vitro. Uptake and transport of mannitol, propranolol, glutamine and digoxin was measured in the presence and absence of Iiposome formulations to establish changes in absorption resulting from the presence of lipid formulations.
Incorporation of the four hydroxybenzoates was shown to be influenced by a number of factors, including liposome composition and drug conformation. Methyl hydroxybenzo.ate (MP) was incorporated into the bilayer most effectively with percentage incorporation of 68% compared to 45% for butyl hydroxybenzoate (BP), despite its increased Iipophilicity. This was attributed to the decreased packing ability of BP within the hydrocarbon core of the lipid bilayer compared to MP. Release studies also suggested that the smaller MP was more strongly incorporated within the lipid bilayer with only 8% of the incorporated solute being released after 48-hours compared to 17% in the case of BP. Model transport studies were seen to reflect drug release profiles from the liposome bilayers with significantly (p < 0.01) higher amounts of BP partitioning from the liposome compared to MP,
Caco-2 cell viability was maintained above 86% in the presence of all Iiposome formulations tested indicating the liposome formulations are non-toxic towards Caco-2 cells. Paracellular (apical-to-basolateral) transport of mannitol was significantly increased in the presence of DSPC, PC / DSPC:Cholesterol (16:4 µM; 1000 µg). Glutamine uptake and transport via the carrier-mediated route was Significantly (p < 0.01) increased in the presence of PC I DSPC:Cholesterol (16:0; 16:4 µM). Digoxin apical-to-basolateral transport was significantly increased (p < 0,01) in the presence of PC / DSPC:Cholesterol (16:0; 16:4 µM); thus reducing digoxin efflux via P-glycoprotein. In contrast, PC:ChoJesterol (16:0; 16:4 µM) significantly (p < 0.01) decreased propranolol uptake via the passive transcellular route. Bi-directional transport of propranolol was significantly (p < 0,01) decreased in the presence of PC/DSPC:Cholesterol (16:0; 16:4 µM).
The structure of a solute is an important determinant for the incorporation and release of a solute from liposome formulations. PC, DSPC and cholesterol liposome formulations are nontoxic towards Caco-2 cell monolayers and improved uptake and transport of mannitol, glutamine. and digoxin across Caco-2 cell monolayers; thus providing a potential alternative delivery vehicle.
Date of AwardOct 2005
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBill Irwin (Supervisor), Yvonne Perrie (Supervisor) & Helen R Griffiths (Supervisor)


  • Liposomes
  • LogP
  • paracellular transport
  • transcellular transport
  • efflux

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