(31)P and (1)H NMR Studies of the Molecular Organization of Lipids in the Parallel Artificial Membrane Permeability Assay
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The parallel artificial membrane permeability assay (PAMPA) has emerged as a widely used primary in vitro screen for passive permeability of potential drug candidates. However, the molecular structure of the permeation barrier (consisting of a filter-supported dodecane-egg lecithin mixture) has never been characterized. Here, we investigated the long-range order of phospholipids in the PAMPA barrier by means of (31)P static solid-state NMR. Diffusion constants of PAMPA membrane components were derived from liquid state NMR and, in addition, drug distribution between the PAMPA lipid phase and buffer (log DPAMPA at pH 7.4) was systematically investigated. Increasing concentration of n-dodecane to the system egg lecithin-water (lamellar phase, Lα) induces formation of inverted hexagonal (Hii) and isotropic phases. At n-dodecane concentrations matching those used in PAMPA (9%, w/v) a purely "isotropic" phase was observed corresponding to lipid aggregates with a diameter in the range 4-7 nm. Drug distribution studies indicate that these reverse micelles facilitate the binding to, and in turn the permeation across, the PAMPA dodecane barrier, in particular for amphiphilic solutes. The proposed model for the molecular architecture and function of the PAMPA barrier provides a fundamental, hitherto missing framework to evaluate the scope but also limitations of PAMPA for the prediction of in vivo membrane permeability.