Intramucosal 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) and acetylated 5-ASA (Ac-5-ASA) concentrations were determined in ileocolonic biopsy specimens from 61 patients with irritable bowel syndrome treated for one week with near equimolar doses of different slow release preparations of 5-ASA (Claversal, Asacol, or Pentasa) or azo-bound drugs (Salazopyrin, Dipentum). The transit time in these patients was accelerated by a laxative, metoclopramide, and colonic lavage. The presence of 5-ASA in the mucosa was confirmed by autofluorescence. The highest concentrations of 5-ASA were obtained after Asacol (mean (SEM), 298.5 (37.3) ng/mg wet wt), followed by Claversal 500 mg (108.8 (11.7) ng/mg wet wt) and Pentasa (25.7 (2.2) ng/mg wet wt). Very low concentrations only were observed after Claversal 250 mg (0.3 (0.03) ng/mg wet wt), Salazopyrine (1.2 (0.1) ng/mg wet wt), and Dipentum (11.0 (3.2) ng/mg wet wt). The results for Ac-5-ASA were similar but the concentrations were generally lower. Serum concentration-time curves over eight hours were obtained from 34 healthy volunteers after a single oral dose of 400 to 500 mg of the different drugs. For the slow release forms, an apparently inverse relationship was found between the area under the curve of the serum concentrations and the intramucosal concentrations, supporting the importance of the local availability of the drug. This inverse relationship was absent for the azo-bound drugs. Colonic washout induced mechanical removal of intraluminal 5-ASA with a secondary disturbance in absorption resulting in a rapid decline in the serum concentrations. However, only for Dipentum did this result in significantly lower 5-ASA mucosal concentrations. This is the first reported attempt to evaluate the mucosal availability of 5-ASA after different oral preparations. It shows that where transit time is accelerated higher mucosal concentrations occur after slow release preparations (except for Claversal 250 mg) than after azo-bound drugs. Additional studies are necessary to correlate these concentrations with clinical effects.
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