Biodistribution and pharmacokinetics of colon-specific HPMA copolymer–9-aminocamptothecin conjugate in mice

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A water soluble N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer–9-aminocamptothecin (9-AC) conjugate was designed for oral colon-specific drug delivery in the treatment of colon cancer. Comparative studies between the polymer conjugate and free drug have been performed to assess their biodistribution and pharmacokinetics in mice. After oral administration of equal doses of the polymer conjugate or free 9-AC, the drug concentrations in major organs at fixed time points were determined using an HPLC-fluorescence assay. Only 2±1% of 9-AC released from the polymer conjugate was detected in the small intestine (SI), and the mean peak concentration of free 9-AC was 45-fold higher than that from released drug. Colon-specific release of 9-AC produced high local concentrations. The mean peak concentration of released 9-AC in cecal contents, feces, cecal tissue, and colon tissue were, respectively, 3.2-fold, 3.5-fold, 2.2-fold and 1.6-fold higher than that using free 9-AC. In plasma, the high and sharp drug concentration profile from free drug was in contrast to the relatively low and flat pharmacokinetic profile obtained from drug released from the HPMA copolymer. There was no significant difference between released and free drug for the area under the concentration–time curve (AUC) and bioavailability values. As a consequence of the colon-specific release of unmodified 9-AC from the polymer conjugate, antitumor efficacy can be anticipated to be enhanced due to prolonged colon tumor exposure to higher and more localized drug concentrations.

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