A novel colon-specific steroid prodrug enhances sodium chloride absorption in rat colitis

Author(s): Fedorak RN, Cui N, Friend DR, Madsen KL, Empey LR


A recently synthesized novel colon-specific dexamethasone prodrug, dexamethasone-beta-D-glucuronide, delivers efficacious amounts of dexamethasone to the colon with limited adrenal suppressive effects. During experimentally induced colitis in rats, the dexamethasone prodrug is significantly more potent than free dexamethasone in improving colonic fluid and electrolyte absorptive injury. The present studies examined whether the improvement in colonic absorption seen with the prodrug occurred as a consequence of alterations in sodium and chloride epithelial transport. The efficacy of the dexamethasone prodrug and free dexamethasone were tested in an acetic acid-induced rat model of colitis. Healing of the induced colitis was assessed by measuring net colonic fluid absorption and surface area ulceration. Transmural unidirectional fluxes of 22Na and 36Cl across sheets of colonic mucosa were measured in Ussing chambers. Treatment of colitis with the prodrug delivered a sixfold higher concentration of dexamethasone to the colon than did treatment with the free drug. The prodrug accelerated healing of colitis by returning in vivo colonic fluid absorption to normal and virtually eliminated colonic macroscopic ulceration, whereas the free drug did not. In vitro transmural fluxes demonstrated that, in addition to repair of mucosal integrity, the prodrug enhanced electroneutral sodium chloride absorption over and above that seen in control animals or after treatment with the free drug. Both the prodrug and the free drug limited theophylline-mediated net chloride and sodium secretion, an effect that would be consistent with the antidiarrheal effect induced by these drugs in vivo.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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