Drug permeability profiling using cell-free permeation tools: Overview and applications

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Cell-free permeation systems are gaining interest in drug discovery and development as tools to obtain a reliable prediction of passive intestinal absorption without the disadvantages associated with cell- or tissue-based permeability profiling. Depending on the composition of the barrier, cell-free permeation systems are classified into two classes including (i) biomimetic barriers which are constructed from (phospho)lipids and (ii) non-biomimetic barriers containing dialysis membranes. This review provides an overview of the currently available cell-free permeation systems including Parallel Artificial Membrane Permeability Assay (PAMPA), Phospholipid Vesicle-based Permeation Assay (PVPA), Permeapad®, and artificial membrane based systems (e.g. the artificial membrane insert system (AMI-system)) in terms of their barrier composition as well as their predictive capacity in relation to well-characterized intestinal permeation systems. Given the potential loss of integrity of cell-based permeation barriers in the presence of food components or pharmaceutical excipients, the superior robustness of cell-free barriers makes them suitable for the combined dissolution/permeation evaluation of formulations. While cell-free permeation systems are mostly applied for exploring intestinal absorption, they can also be used to evaluate non-oral drug delivery by adjusting the composition of the membrane.

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