Planta Med 2015; 81(12/13): 1111-1120
DOI: 10.1055/s-0035-1546034
Pharmacokinetic Investigations
Original Papers
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Permeation Characteristics of Hypericin across Caco-2 Monolayers in the Absence or Presence of Quercitrin – A Mass Balance Study[*]

Sheela Verjee
1  Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
,
Daniela Brügger
1  Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
,
Heba Abdel-Aziz
2  Scientific Department, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany
,
Veronika Butterweck
1  Institute for Pharma Technology, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Muttenz, Switzerland
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 24 February 2015
revised 07 April 2015

accepted 08 April 2015

Publication Date:
27 May 2015 (eFirst)

Abstract

Hypericin is a natural polycyclic quinone found in Hypericum perforatum. Although hypericin reportedly has numerous pharmacological activities, only a limited number of studies have been performed on the absorption and transport characteristics of this compound, presumably because hypericin is a highly lipophilic compound that is poorly soluble in a physiological medium. The major aim of this study was to get a detailed understanding of the exposure and fate of hypericin in the Caco-2 cell system under different experimental conditions. The permeation characteristics of hypericin (5 µM) in the absence or presence of the model flavonoid quercitrin (20 µM) were studied in the absorptive direction, without or with the addition of 10 % FBS to the transport buffer apically. Following the application of hypericin to the apical side of the monolayer, only negligible amounts of the compound were found in the basolateral compartment when the experiment was performed with a transport buffer. The amount of hypericin in the basolateral compartment increased in the presence of quercitrin (from 0 to 4 %). The majority of hypericin was found after cell extraction (44 % in the absence and 64 % in the presence of quercitrin). When 10 % FBS was added to the transport buffer in the apical compartment to improve the solubility of hypericin in the aqueous solution, around 68 % of hypericin was bound to the serum proteins. Under these experimental conditions, the amount of hypericin in the cells/cell membrane was only 13 % in the absence and 18 % in the presence of quercitrin. The low recovery and significant amounts of hypericin found after cell extraction and bound to the surface of the culture dish made a correct estimation of permeability constants impossible. Fluorescence microscopy and imaging analysis revealed that hypericin is mainly accumulated in the cell membrane. The precise mechanism through which hypericin might overcome the hydrophobic barrier of cell membranes remains to be elucidated. However, our experiments demonstrated that regardless of the experimental conditions, the permeation characteristics of hypericin improved in the presence of the model flavonoid quercitrin.

* Dedicated to Professor Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Adolf Nahrstedt on the occasion of his 75th birthday.


Supporting Information