Digestion of surfactants does not affect their ability to inhibit P-gp-mediated transport in vitro

Asbjørn Jaensch Rasmussen, Maria Pedersen, Brendan T Griffin, René Holm, Carsten Uhd Nielsen

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While various non-ionic surfactants at low concentrations have been shown to increase the transport of P-gp substrates in vitro, in vivo studies in rats have shown that a higher surfactant concentration is needed to increase the oral absorption of e.g. the P-gp substrates digoxin and etoposide. The aim of the present study was to investigate if intestinal digestion of surfactants could be the reason for this deviation between in vitro and in vivo data. Therefore, Kolliphor EL, Brij-L23, Labrasol and polysorbate 20 were investigated for their ability to inhibit P-gp and increase digoxin absorption in vitro. Transport studies were performed in Caco-2 cells, while P-gp inhibition and cell viability assays were performed in MDCKII-MDR1 cells. Polysorbate 20, Kolliphor EL and Brij-L23 increased absorptive transport and decreased secretory digoxin transport in Caco-2 cells, whereas only polysorbate 20 and Brij-L23 showed P-gp inhibiting properties in the MDCKII-MDR1 cells. Polysorbate 20 and Brij-L23 were chosen for in vitro digestion prior to transport- or P-gp inhibiting assays. Brij-L23 was not digestible, whereas polysorbate 20 reached a degree of digestion around 40%. Neither of the two surfactants showed any significant difference in their ability to affect absorptive or secretory transport of digoxin after pre-digestion. Furthermore, the P-gp inhibiting effects of polysorbate 20 were not decreased significantly. In conclusion, the mechanism behind the non-ionic surfactant mediated in vitro P-gp inhibition seemed independent of the intestinal digestion and the results presented here did not suggest it to be the cause of the observed discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Pages (from-to)124120
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 10. May 2024

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