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Recently, the cationic polymer thiolated chitosan has been reported to modulate drug absorption by inhibition of intestinal efflux pumps. The objective of this study was to evaluate in vitro and in vivo whether thiolated anionic biopolymers also show an efflux pump inhibitory effect in order to improve intestinal transcellular drug uptake.Therefore, three thiomers have been synthesized due covalent attachment of cysteine to various polymer backbones: pectin–cysteine (pect–cys), carboxymethylcellulose-cysteine (CMC–cys) and alginate–cysteine (alg–cys). In vitro, the permeation enhancing properties of these thiomers and their corresponding unmodified polymers have been evaluated on rat small intestine in Ussing-type chambers, using sulforhodamine 101 (SR-101) as MRP2 model substrate. In comparison to buffer only, SR-101 transport in presence of pect–cys, CMC–cys and alg–cys was improved 1.5-fold, 1.8-fold and 3.0-fold, respectively. Due to the comparatively best in vitro performance of thiolated alginate, it has been chosen for in vivo studies: a SR-101 solution containing 4% (w/v) alg–cys led to an AUC0≥12 of SR-101 of 109 ng ml−1 h in rats representing a 3.8-fold improvement in comparison to a SR-101 buffer solution. Unmodified alginate improved the AUC0≥12 of SR-101 by a factor of 1.9.These findings suggest thiolated alginate as promising auxiliary agent for drugs being anionic efflux pump substrates, since the oral bioavailability of a MRP2 substrate could be significantly improved.