Fitting transporter activities to cellular drug concentrations and fluxes: why the bumblebee can fly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A recent paper in this journal argued that reported expression levels, kcat and Km for drug transporters could be used to estimate the likelihood that drug fluxes through Caco-2 cells could be accounted for solely by protein transporters. It was in fact concluded that if five such transporters contributed ‘randomly’ they could account for the flux of the most permeable drug tested (verapamil) 35% of the time. However, the values of permeability cited for verapamil were unusually high; this and other drugs have much lower permeabilities. Even for the claimed permeabilities, we found that a single ‘random’ transporter could account for the flux 42% of the time, and that two transporters can achieve 10 · 10−6 cm·s−1 90% of the time. Parameter optimisation methods show that even a single transporter can account for Caco-2 drug uptake of the most permeable drug. Overall, the proposal that ‘phospholipid bilayer diffusion (of drugs) is negligible’ is not disproved by the calculations of ‘likely’ transporter-based fluxes.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-723
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in pharmacological sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015

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