Melanin binding study of clinical drugs with cassette dosing and rapid equilibrium dialysis inserts

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Melanin pigment is a negatively charged polymer found in pigmented human tissues. In the eye, iris, ciliary body, choroid and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are heavily pigmented. Several drug molecules are known to bind to melanin, but larger sets of drugs have not been compared often in similar test conditions. In this study, we introduce a powerful tool for screening of melanin binding. The binding of a set of 34 compounds to isolated porcine RPE melanin was determined by cassette (n-in-one) dosing in rapid equilibrium dialysis inserts and the binding was quantitated with LC-MS/MS analytics. The compounds represented large variety in melanin binding (from 8.6%, ganciclovir) to over 95% bound (ampicillin and ciprofloxacin). The data provides information on melanin binding of small molecular weight compounds that are used for ocular (e.g. brinzolamide, ganciclovir) and systemic (e.g. tizanidine, indomethacin) therapy. Interestingly, competition among compounds was seen for melanin binding and the binding did not show any correlation with plasma protein binding. These results increase the understanding of melanin binding of ocular drugs and can be further exploited to predict pharmacokinetics in the eye. Pigment binding provides an interesting option for improved drug distribution to retina and choroid that are difficult target tissues in drug delivery.

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