In silico modeling of gastrointestinal drug absorption: predictive performance of three physiologically based absorption models

Publication: Mol Pharm
Software: GastroPlus®


Gastrointestinal (GI) drug absorption is a complex process determined by formulation, physicochemical and biopharmaceutical factors, and GI physiology. Physiologically based in silico absorption models have emerged as a widely used and promising supplement to traditional in vitro assays and preclinical in vivo studies. However, there remains a lack of comparative studies between different models. The aim of this study was to explore the strengths and limitations of the in silico absorption models Simcyp 13.1, GastroPlus 8.0, and GI-Sim 4.1, with respect to their performance in predicting human intestinal drug absorption. This was achieved by adopting an a priori modeling approach and using well-defined input data for 12 drugs associated with incomplete GI absorption and related challenges in predicting the extent of absorption. This approach better mimics the real situation during formulation development where predictive in silico models would be beneficial. Plasma concentration-time profiles for 44 oral drug administrations were calculated by convolution of model-predicted absorption-time profiles and reported pharmacokinetic parameters. Model performance was evaluated by comparing the predicted plasma concentration-time profiles, Cmax, tmax, and exposure (AUC) with observations from clinical studies. The overall prediction accuracies for AUC, given as the absolute average fold error (AAFE) values, were 2.2, 1.6, and 1.3 for Simcyp, GastroPlus, and GI-Sim, respectively. The corresponding AAFE values for Cmax were 2.2, 1.6, and 1.3, respectively, and those for tmax were 1.7, 1.5, and 1.4, respectively. Simcyp was associated with underprediction of AUC and Cmax; the accuracy decreased with decreasing predicted fabs. A tendency for underprediction was also observed for GastroPlus, but there was no correlation with predicted fabs. There were no obvious trends for over- or underprediction for GI-Sim. The models performed similarly in capturing dependencies on dose and particle size. In conclusion, it was shown that all three software packages are useful to guide formulation development. However, as a consequence of the high fraction of inaccurate predictions (prediction error >2-fold) and the clear trend toward decreased accuracy with decreased predicted fabs observed with Simcyp, the results indicate that GI-Sim and GastroPlus perform better than Simcyp in predicting the intestinal absorption of the incompletely absorbed drugs when a higher degree of accuracy is needed. In addition, this study suggests that modeling and simulation research groups should perform systematic model evaluations using their own input data to maximize confidence in model performance and output.