Dynamic in vitro intestinal barrier model coupled to chip-based liquid chromatography mass spectrometry for oral bioavailability studies

M.J.C. Santbergen, M. van der Zande, A. Gerssen, H. Bouwmeester, M.W.F. Nielen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In oral bioavailability studies, evaluation of the absorption and transport of drugs and food components across the intestinal barrier is crucial. Advances in the field of organ-on-a-chip technology have resulted in a dynamic gut-on-a-chip model that better mimics the in vivo microenvironment of the intestine. Despite a few recent integration attempts, ensuring a biologically relevant microenvironment while coupling with a fully online detection system still represents a major challenge. Herein, we designed an online technique to measure drug permeability and analyse unknown product formation across an intestinal epithelial layer of Caco-2 and HT29-MTX cells cultured on a flow-through Transwell system, while ensuring the quality and relevance of the biological model. Chip-based ultra-performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF-MS) was coupled to the dynamic Transwell system via a series of switching valves, thus allowing alternating measurements of the apical and basolateral sides of the in vitro model. Two trap columns were integrated for online sample pre-treatment and compatibility enhancement. Temporal analysis of the intestinal permeability was successfully demonstrated using verapamil as a model drug and ergotamine epimers as a model for natural toxins present in foods. Evidence was obtained that our newly developed dynamic system provided reliable results versus classical static in vitro models, and moreover, for the first time, epimer-specific transport is shown for ergotamine. Finally, initial experiments with the drug granisetron suggest that metabolic activity can be studied as well, thus highlighting the versatility of the bio-integrated online analysis system developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1122
Number of pages12
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Early online date21 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Chip-based liquid chromatography
  • Gut-on-a-chip
  • Intestinal barrier
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Oral bioavailability


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