Statistical investigation of simulated fed intestinal media composition on the equilibrium solubility of oral drugs

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Gastrointestinal fluid is a complex milieu and it is recognised that gut drug solubility is different to that observed in simple aqueous buffers. Simulated gastrointestinal media have been developed covering fasted and fed states to facilitate in vitro prediction of gut solubility and product dissolution. However, the combination of bile salts, phospholipids, fatty acids and proteins in an aqueous buffered system creates multiple phases and drug solubility is therefore a complex interaction between these components, which may create unique environments for each API. The impact on solubility can be assessed through a statistical design of experiment (DoE) approach, to determine the influence and relationships between factors. In this paper DoE has been applied to fed simulated gastrointestinal media consisting of eight components (pH, bile salt, lecithin, sodium oleate, monoglyceride, buffer, salt and pancreatin) using a two level D-optimal design with forty-four duplicate measurements and four centre points. The equilibrium solubility of a range of poorly soluble acidic (indomethacin, ibuprofen, phenytoin, valsartan, zafirlukast), basic (aprepitant, carvedilol, tadalafil, bromocriptine) and neutral (fenofibrate, felodipine, probucol, itraconazole) drugs was investigated. Results indicate that the DoE provides equilibrium solubility values that are comparable to literature results for other simulated fed gastrointestinal media systems or human intestinal fluid samples. For acidic drugs the influence of pH predominates but other significant factors related to oleate and bile salt or interactions between them are present. For basic drugs pH, oleate and bile salt have equal significance along with interactions between pH and oleate and lecithin and oleate. Neutral drugs show diverse effects of the media components particularly with regard to oleate, bile salt, pH and lecithin but the presence of monoglyceride, pancreatin and buffer have significant but smaller effects on solubility. There are fourteen significant interactions between factors mainly related to the surfactant components and pH, indicating that the solubility of neutral drugs in fed simulated media is complex. The results also indicate that the equilibrium solubility of each drug can exhibit individualistic behaviour associated with the drug’s chemical structure, physicochemical properties and interaction with media components. The utility of DoE for fed simulated media has been demonstrated providing equilibrium solubility values comparable with similar in vitro systems whilst also providing greater information on the influence of media factors and their interactions. The determination of a drug’s gastrointestinal solubility envelope provides useful limits that can potentially be applied to in silico modelling and in vivo experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • gastrointestinal fluid
  • gut drug solubility
  • product dissolution
  • in vitro prediction
  • design of experiments
  • fed simulated intestinal fluid
  • biopharmaceutics classification system
  • equilibrium solubility

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