New natural amino acid-bearing pro-drugs
The biomedical effects of the natural phenol pterostilbene are of great interest but its bioavailability is negatively affected by the phenolic group in position 4′ which is an ideal target for the conjugative enzymes of phase II metabolism. We report the synthesis and characterization of prodrugs in which the hydroxyl moiety is reversibly protected as a carbamate ester linked to the N-terminus of a natural amino acid. Prodrugs comprising amino acids with hydrophobic side chains were readily absorbed after intragastric administration to rats. The Area Under the Curve for pterostilbene in blood was optimal when prodrugs with isoleucine or β-alanine were used. The prodrug incorporating isoleucine was used for further studies to map distribution into major organs. When compared to pterostilbene itself, administration of the isoleucine prodrug afforded increased absorption, reduced metabolism and higher concentrations of pterostilbene, sustained for several hours, in most of the organs examined. Experiments using Caco-2 cells as an in vitro model for human intestinal absorption suggest that the prodrug could have promising absorption profiles also in humans; its uptake is partly due to passive diffusion, and partly mediated by H+-dependent transporters expressed on the apical membrane of enterocytes, such as PepT1 and OATP.