Author(s): Thanou M, Verhoef JC, Junginger HE
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Abstract Chitosan is a non-toxic, biocompatible polymer that has found a number of applications in drug delivery including that of absorption enhancer of hydrophilic macromolecular drugs. Chitosan, when protonated (pH<6.5), is able to increase the paracellular permeability of peptide drugs across mucosal epithelia. Chitosan derivatives have been evaluated to overcome chitosan's limited solubility and effectiveness as absorption enhancer at neutral pH values such as those found in the intestinal tract. Trimethyl chitosan chloride (TMC) has been synthesized at different degrees of quaternization. This quaternized polymer forms complexes with anionic macromolecules and gels or solutions with cationic or neutral compounds in aqueous environments and neutral pH values. TMC has been shown to considerably increase the permeation and/or absorption of neutral and cationic peptide analogs across intestinal epithelia. The mechanism by which TMC enhances intestinal permeability is similar to that of protonated chitosan. It reversibly interacts with components of the tight junctions, leading to widening of the paracellular routes. Mono-carboxymethylated chitosan (MCC) is a polyampholytic polymer, able to form visco-elastic gels in aqueous environments or with anionic macromolecules at neutral pH values. MCC appears to be less potent compared to the quaternized derivative. Nevertheless, MCC was found to increase the permeation and absorption of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH; an anionic polysaccharide) across intestinal epithelia. Neither chitosan derivative provokes damage of the cell membrane, and therefore they do not alter the viability of intestinal epithelial cells.
This article was published in Adv Drug Deliv Rev
and referenced in Journal of Bioequivalence & Bioavailability