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1.  Computational Approaches to Analyze and Predict Small Molecule Transport and Distribution at Cellular and Subcellular Levels 
Quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) studies and mechanistic mathematical modeling approaches have been independently employed for analyzing and predicting the transport and distribution of small molecule chemical agents in living organisms. Both of these computational approaches have been useful to interpret experiments measuring the transport properties of small molecule chemical agents, in vitro and in vivo. Nevertheless, mechanistic cell-based pharmacokinetic models have been especially useful to guide the design of experiments probing the molecular pathways underlying small molecule transport phenomena. Unlike QSAR models, mechanistic models can be integrated from microscopic to macroscopic levels, to analyze the spatiotemporal dynamics of small molecule chemical agents from intracellular organelles to whole organs, well beyond the experiments and training data sets upon which the models are based. Based on differential equations, mechanistic models can also be integrated with other differential equations-based systems biology models of biochemical networks or signaling pathways. Although the origin and evolution of mathematical modeling approaches aimed at predicting drug transport and distribution has occurred independently from systems biology, we propose that the incorporation of mechanistic cell-based computational models of drug transport and distribution into a systems biology modeling framework is a logical next-step for the advancement of systems pharmacology research.
doi:10.1002/bdd.1879
PMCID: PMC3947293  PMID: 24218242
Cellular pharmacokinetics; Computational modeling; Drug Transport; Systems pharmacology
2.  The Extracellular Microenvironment Explains Variations in Passive Drug Transport across Different Airway Epithelial Cell Types 
Pharmaceutical research  2013;30(8):2118-2132.
Purpose
We sought to identify key variables in cellular architecture and physiology that might explain observed differences in the passive transport properties of small molecule drugs across different airway epithelial cell types.
Methods
Propranolol (PR) was selected as a weakly basic, model compound to compare the transport properties of primary (NHBE) vs. tumor-derived (Calu-3) cells. Differentiated on Transwell™ inserts, the architecture of pure vs. mixed cell co-cultures was studied with confocal microscopy followed by quantitative morphometric analysis. Cellular pharmacokinetic modeling was used to identify parameters that differentially affect PR uptake and transport across these two cell types.
Results
Pure Calu-3 and NHBE cells possessed different structural and functional properties. Nevertheless, mixed Calu-3 and NHBE cell co-cultures differentiated as stable cell monolayers. After measuring the total mass of PR, the fractional areas covered by Calu-3 and NHBE cells allowed deconvoluting the transport properties of each cell type. Based on the apparent thickness of the unstirred, cell surface aqueous layer, local differences in extracellular microenvironment explained the measured variations in passive PR uptake and permeation between Calu-3 and NHBE cells.
Conclusion
Mixed cell co-cultures can be used to compare the local effects of the extracellular microenvironment on drug uptake and transport across two epithelial cell types.
doi:10.1007/s11095-013-1069-5
PMCID: PMC3706189  PMID: 23708857
cellular pharmacokinetics; Calu-3 cells; local drug absorption; inhaled drug delivery; computational modeling
3.  A Cell-based Computational Modeling Approach for Developing Site-Directed Molecular Probes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(2):e1002378.
Modeling the local absorption and retention patterns of membrane-permeant small molecules in a cellular context could facilitate development of site-directed chemical agents for bioimaging or therapeutic applications. Here, we present an integrative approach to this problem, combining in silico computational models, in vitro cell based assays and in vivo biodistribution studies. To target small molecule probes to the epithelial cells of the upper airways, a multiscale computational model of the lung was first used as a screening tool, in silico. Following virtual screening, cell monolayers differentiated on microfabricated pore arrays and multilayer cultures of primary human bronchial epithelial cells differentiated in an air-liquid interface were used to test the local absorption and intracellular retention patterns of selected probes, in vitro. Lastly, experiments involving visualization of bioimaging probe distribution in the lungs after local and systemic administration were used to test the relevance of computational models and cell-based assays, in vivo. The results of in vivo experiments were consistent with the results of in silico simulations, indicating that mitochondrial accumulation of membrane permeant, hydrophilic cations can be used to maximize local exposure and retention, specifically in the upper airways after intratracheal administration.
Author Summary
We have developed an integrative, cell-based modeling approach to facilitate the design and discovery of chemical agents directed to specific sites of action within a living organism. Here, a computational, multiscale transport model of the lung was adapted to enable virtual screening of small molecules targeting the epithelial cells of the upper airways. In turn, the transport behaviors of selected candidate probes were evaluated to establish their degree of retention at a site of absorption, using computational simulations as well as two in vitro cell-based assay systems. Lastly, bioimaging experiments were performed to examine candidate molecules' distribution in the lungs of mice after local and systemic administration. Based on computational simulations, the higher mitochondrial density per unit absorption surface area is the key parameter determining the higher retention of small molecule hydrophilic cations in the upper airways, relative to lipophilic weak bases, specifically after intratracheal administration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002378
PMCID: PMC3285574  PMID: 22383866
4.  Cell-based multiscale computational modeling of small molecule absorption and retention in the lungs 
Pharmaceutical research  2010;27(3):457-467.
Purpose
For optimizing the local, pulmonary targeting of inhaled medications, it is important to analyze the relationship between the physicochemical properties of small molecules and their absorption, retention and distribution in the various cell types of the airways and alveoli.
Methods
A computational, multiscale, cell-based model was constructed to facilitate analysis of pulmonary drug transport and distribution. The relationship between the physicochemical properties and pharmacokinetic profile of monobasic molecules was explored. Experimental absorption data of compounds with diverse structures were used to validate this model. Simulations were performed to evaluate the effect of active transport and organelle sequestration on the absorption kinetics of compounds.
Results
Relating the physicochemical properties to the pharmacokinetic profiles of small molecules reveals how the absorption half-life and distribution of compounds are expected to vary in different cell types and anatomical regions of the lung. Based on logP, pKa and molecular radius, the absorption rate constants (Ka) calculated with the model were consistent with experimental measurements of pulmonary drug absorption.
Conclusions
The cell-based mechanistic model developed herein is an important step towards the rational design of local, lung-targeted medications, facilitating the design and interpretation of experiments aimed at optimizing drug transport properties in lung.
doi:10.1007/s11095-009-0034-9
PMCID: PMC2907074  PMID: 20099073

Results 1-4 (4)