Absorption enhancement through intracellular regulation of tight junction permeability by medium chain fatty acids in Caco-2 cells

Lindmark, T.; Kimura, Y.; Artursson, P.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 284(1): 362-369


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3565
PMID: 9435199
Accession: 008092419

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Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are used to enhance the permeability of mucosal tissues to hydrophilic drugs, but their mechanism of action is largely unknown. In this study, the absorption-enhancing effects of the sodium salts of two MCFAs, capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12), were studied in monolayers of human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells. Both MCFAs induced a rapid increase in epithelial permeability to the hydrophilic marker molecule sodium fluorescein. Inhibition of phospholipase C and inhibition or activation of various kinases and buffering of intracellular calcium indicated that the effects on epithelial permeability were mediated through phospholipase C-dependent inositol triphosphate/diacylglycerol pathways. Surprisingly, the inositol triphosphate and diacylglycerol pathways were found to have opposing effects on paracellular permeability. Exposure to the MCFAs also resulted in a concentration dependent reduction of cellular dehydrogenase activity and ATP levels. C10, but not C12, induced redistribution of the tight junction proteins ZO-1 and occludin. These results indicate that the two MCFAs have partially different and more complex mechanisms than previously recognized, which has important implications for their use in vivo.