Ile-Pro-Pro (IPP) and Leu-Lys-Pro (LKP) are food-derived antihypertensive peptides which inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and may have potential to attenuate hypertension. There is debate over their mechanism of uptake across small intestinal epithelia, but paracellular and PepT1 carrier-mediated uptake are thought to be important routes. The aim of this study was to determine their routes of intestinal permeability using in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo intestinal models. The presence of an apical side pH of 6.5 (mimicking the intestinal acidic microclimate) and of Gly-Sar (a high affinity competitive inhibitor and substrate for PepT1) were tested on the transepithelial apical to basolateral (A to B) transport of [3H]-IPP and [3H]-LKP across filter-grown Caco-2 monolayers in vitro and rat jejunal mucosae ex vivo. A buffer pH of 6.5 on the apical side enabled Gly-Sar to reduce the apparent permeability (Papp) of [3H]-IPP and [3H]-LKP, but this inhibition was not evident at an apical buffer pH of 7.4. Gly-Sar reduced the Papp across isolated jejunal mucosae and the area under the curve (AUC) in intra-jejunal instillations when the apical/luminal buffer pH was either 7.4 or 6.5. However, the jejunal surface acidic pH was maintained in rat jejunal tissue even when the apical side buffer pH was 7.4 due to the presence of the microclimate which is not present in monolayers. PepT1 expression was confirmed by immunofluorescence on monolayers and brush border of rat jejunal tissue. This data suggest that IPP and LKP are highly permeable and cross small intestinal epithelia in part by the PepT1 transporter, with an additional contribution from the paracellular route.Graphical abstract
IPP and LKP are transported across the small intestine by (A) PepT1-mediated uptake and (B) with contribution from the paracellular route, when an apical acidic pH gradient is present.