Different effects of pH on the permeation of pilocarpine and pilocarpine prodrugs across the isolated rabbit cornea.Eur J Pharm Sci 1998; 6(3):169-76EJ
Ocular absorption of pilocarpine and many other ophthalmic drugs can be improved by prodrug derivatization. For stability and solubility reasons basic prodrugs must be formulated at acidic pH, which may affect the corneal drug permeability. We studied the effects of pH on in vitro permeation of pilocarpine, pilocarpic acid benzyl diester prodrugs [O-propionyl (I) and O-valeryl (II)] and O,O'-(1, 4-xylylene) bispilocarpic acid diester prodrugs [O,O'-diacetyl (III), O,O'-dipropionyl (IV) and O,O'-divaleryl (V)] through albino rabbit cornea. Reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography was used to assay pilocarpine and its prodrugs. The permeability coefficient for pilocarpine decreased more than three times, from 2. 8x10-6 cm/s to 0.9x10-6 cm/s, when the pH was decreased from 7.65 to 5.5. At pH 7.65 permeability of pilocarpine improved several fold with delivery as prodrugs. Acidic pH (5.5, 6.0) affected to a different extent the corneal permeability of pilocarpine given as prodrugs. Consequently, the rank order of the corneal permeabilities among the compounds was different at various pH values. The effect of pH was greatest (an order of magnitude) for prodrugs with intermediate lipophilicity (I, III, IV), while pH had only minor or no effect on permeability of the most lipophilic prodrugs (II, V). In conclusion, the effect of pH on pilocarpine delivery as prodrug is dependent on prodrug structure and the advantage gained with prodrugs relative to pilocarpine is dependent on formulation pH.