Design, synthesis and characterisation of captopril prodrugs for enhanced percutaneous absorption
Most drugs are designed primarily for oral administration, but the activity and stability profiles desirable for this route often make them unsuitable for transdermal delivery. We were therefore interested in designing analogues of captopril, a model drug with poor percutaneous penetration, for which the sustained steady-state blood plasma level associated with transdermal delivery (and which is unattainable orally) would be particularly beneficial. Quantitative structure—permeability relationships (QSPRs) predicted that ester and thiol prodrug derivatives of captopril would have lower maximal transdermal flux (Jm) than the parent drug, since the increases in permeability coefficient (kp) of prodrugs would be outweighed by the reductions in aqueous solubility. Therefore, the aim of this study was to synthesize a series of prodrugs of captopril and to determine if a QSPR model could be used to design therapeutically viable prodrugs. Molecules with the highest predicted kp values were synthesized and characterized, and Jm measured in Franz diffusion cells from saturated aqueous donor across porcine skin (fresh and frozen). In-vitro metabolism was also measured. Captopril and the prodrugs crossed the skin relatively freely, with Jm being highest for ethyl to butyl esters. Substantial first-order metabolism of the prodrugs was observed, suggesting that their enhanced percutaneous absorption was complemented by their metabolic performance. The results suggested that QSPR models provided excellent enhancements in drug delivery. This was not seen at higher lipophilicities, suggesting that issues of solubility need to be considered in conjunction with any such use of a QSPR model.