Stereoselective uptake of β‐lactam antibiotics by the intestinal peptide transporter

Uwe Wenzel, David T. Thwaites, Hannelore Daniel

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79 Scopus citations


The stereoselective transport of β‐lactam antibiotics has been investigated in the human intestinal epithelial cell line, Caco‐2, by use of D‐ and L‐enantiomers of cephalexin and loracarbef as substrates. The L‐isomers of cephalexin, loracarbef and dipeptides displayed a higher affinity for the oligopeptide/H+‐symporter in Caco‐2 cells than the D‐isomers. This was demonstrated by inhibition of the influx of the β‐lactam, [3H]‐cefadroxil. By measurement of the substrate‐induced intracellular acidification in Caco‐2 cells loaded with the pH‐sensitive fluorescent dye BCECF (2′,7′‐bis(2‐carboxyethyl)‐5‐(6)‐carboxy‐fluorescein), it was demonstrated for the first time that L‐isomers of β‐lactams not only bind to the peptide transporter with high affinity but are indeed transported. Efficient proton‐coupled transport of L‐β‐lactam antibiotics was also shown to occur in Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing the cloned peptide transporter PepTl from rabbit small intestine. Both cell systems therefore express a stereoselective transport pathway for β‐lactam antibiotics with very similar characteristics and may prove useful for screening rapidly the oral availability of peptide‐derived drugs. 1995 British Pharmacological Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3021-3027
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Caco‐2 cells
  • Proton‐coupled transport
  • cephalosporin
  • dipeptide
  • enterocytes
  • intracellular pH
  • β‐lactam antibiotics


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