There is an increasing interest in the intranasal delivery of central nervous system-active drugs due to the existence of a direct nose-to-brain connection. However, poor solubility limits the amount of drug that can be administered within an aqueous solution. In the present work, the objectives were to develop an ex vivo bioconversion/permeability evaluation method and to study the ex vivo bioconversion of the hydrophilic phosphate ester prodrug fosphenytoin (FOS) to the active drug phenytoin (PHT) and their comparative nasal permeation.
Bioconversion/permeability studies were performed in excised porcine nasal mucosa mounted in Ussing chambers. The physical integrity of the tissues was evaluated by measurement of the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER). The simultaneous quantitative assay of FOS, PHT and its major metabolite, 5-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-5-phenylhydantoin (HPPH) was developed and validated according to international guidelines using a liquid chromatography analytical method. The FOS bioconversion rate and PHT and FOS apparent permeability coefficients (Papp) were determined at different time points. FOS bioconversion was also qualitatively investigated in human nasal mucus.
The developed liquid chromatography method combines a fast and inexpensive sample preparation with inactivation of the enzymatic metabolism of the prodrug during sample manipulation and storage. It was linear, precise, accurate, and presented a high analyte recovery. FOS was converted ex vivo to PHT but the metabolite HPPH was not detected. The bioconversion rate increased with FOS concentration and with time, which suggests a diffusion-limited process. FOS was also converted to its active drug by human nasal mucus. A novel mathematical data analysis method was developed to reduce the bias introduced by variable mucosal TEER in the permeability results. At comparable FOS and PHT concentrations the ln(PappPHT) of both compounds showed little difference, which indicates that the use of a hydrophilic and charged prodrug did not hinder overall drug permeation. At the highest tested FOS concentration it was possible to quantify FOS in the receiver chambers, meaning that at a sufficiently high concentration the FOS permeation rate overcame its bioconversion rate. The ln(PappPHT) tended to similar equilibrium values as the assay progressed, but with higher FOS concentrations that equilibrium was attained faster. Acidic pH reduced the permeability of both PHT and FOS.
The developed bioconversion/permeability evaluation method will constitute an important tool to select the most promising formulations before proceeding to in vivo studies. Importantly, it allowed the demonstration of phosphatase activity and FOS bioconversion in nasal mucosa, as well as the prodrug's nasal permeation potential. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the possibility of formulating phosphate prodrugs of poorly soluble central nervous system-active drugs as a strategy to increase the solubilized drug doses administered through the nasal route.