Prediction of physicochemical and pharmacokinetic properties of botanical constituents by computational models

Publication: J Appl Toxicol
Software: GastroPlus®
Division: Simulations Plus


Botanicals contain complex mixtures of chemicals most of which lack pharmacokinetic data in humans. Since physicochemical and pharmacokinetic properties dictate the in vivo exposure of botanical constituents, these parameters greatly impact the pharmacological and toxicological effects of botanicals in consumer products. This study sought to use computational (i.e., in silico) models, including quantitative structure–activity relationships (QSAR) and physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling, to predict properties of botanical constituents. One hundred and three major constituents (e.g., withanolides, mitragynine, and yohimbine) in 13 botanicals (e.g., ashwagandha, kratom, and yohimbe) were investigated. The predicted properties included biopharmaceutical classification system (BCS) classes based on aqueous solubility and permeability, oral absorption, liver microsomal clearance, oral bioavailability, and others. Over half of these constituents fell into BCS classes I and II at dose levels no greater than 100 mg per day, indicating high permeability and absorption (%Fa > 75%) in the gastrointestinal tract. However, some constituents such as glycosides in ashwagandha and Asian ginseng showed low bioavailability after oral administration due to poor absorption (BCS classes III and IV, %Fa < 40%). These in silico results fill data gaps for botanical constituents and could guide future safety studies. For example, the predicted human plasma concentrations may help select concentrations for in vitro toxicity testing. Additionally, the in silico data could be used in tiered or batteries of assays to assess the safety of botanical products. For example, highly absorbed botanical constituents indicate potential high exposure in the body, which could lead to toxic effects.

By Yitong LiuMichael LawlessMiao LiKiara FairmanMichelle R. EmbryConstance A. Mitchell