Original Article

Intestinal absorption characteristics of imperialine: in vitro and in situ assessments

Qing Lin, Li-qin Ling, Ling Guo, Tao Gong, Xun Sun, Zhi-rong Zhang
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2015.27


Aim:Imperialine is an effective compound in the traditional Chinese medicine chuanbeimu (Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae) that has been used as antitussive/expectorant in a clinical setting. In this study we investigated the absorption characteristics of imperialine in intestinal segments based on an evaluation of its physicochemical properties.
Methods: Caco-2 cells were used to examine uptake and transport of imperialine in vitro, and a rat in situ intestinal perfusion model was used to characterize the absorption of imperialine. The amount of imperialine in the samples was quantified using LC-MS/MS.
Results: The aqueous solubility and oil/water partition coefficient of imperialine were determined. This compound demonstrated a relatively weak alkalinity with a pKa of 8.467±0.028. In Caco-2 cells, the uptake of imperialine was increased with increasing pH in medium, but not affected by temperature. The apparent absorptive and secretive coefficient was (8.39±0.12)×10−6 cm/s and (7.78±0.09)×10−6 cm/s, respectively. Furthermore, neither the P-glycoprotein inhibitor verapamil nor Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 transporter inhibitor ezetimibe affected the absorption and secretion of imperialine in vitro. The in situ intestinal perfusion study showed that the absorption parameters of imperialine varied in 4 intestinal segments (duodenum, jejunum, ileum and colon) with the highest ones in the colon, where a greater number of non-ionized form of imperialine was present.
Conclusion: The intestinal absorptive characteristics of imperialine are closely related to its physicochemical properties. The passive membrane diffusion dominates the intestinal absorption of imperialine.
Keywords: imperialine; chuanbeimu; traditional Chinese medicine; antitussive/expectorant; physicochemical property; absorption; transport; Caco-2 cells; intestinal perfusion

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