• absolute bioavailability;
  • beclomethasone dipropionate;
  • beclomethasone-17-monopropionate;
  • inhaled;
  • intranasal;
  • intravenous;
  • lung deposition;
  • oral;
  • pharmacokinetics

Aims  To assess the absolute bioavailability, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) in man following intravenous, oral, intranasal and inhaled administration.

Methods  Twelve healthy subjects participated in this seven-way cross-over study where BDP was administered via the following routes: intravenous infusion (1000 µg), oral (4000 µg, aqueous suspension), intranasal (1344 µg, aqueous nasal spray) and inhaled (1000 µg ex-valve, metered dose inhaler). The contribution of the lung, nose and gut to the systemic exposure was assessed by repeating the inhaled, intranasal and oral dosing arms together with activated charcoal, to block oral absorption. Blood samples were collected for 24 h postdose for the measurement of BDP, beclomethasone-17-monopropionate (B-17-MP) and beclomethasone (BOH) in plasma by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

Results  Intravenous administration of BDP (mean CL 150 l h−1, Vss 20 l, t½ 0.5 h) was associated with rapid conversion to B-17-MP which was eliminated more slowly (t1/2 2.7 h). In estimating the parameters for B-17-MP (mean CL 120 l h−1, Vss 424 l) complete conversion of BDP to B-17-MP was assumed. The resultant plasma concentrations of BOH were low and transient. BDP was not detected in plasma following oral or intranasal dosing. The mean absolute bioavailability (%F, 90% CI; nominal doses) of inhaled BDP was 2% (1–4%) and not reduced by coadministration of charcoal. The mean percentage F of the active metabolite B-17-MP was 41% (31–54%), 44% (34–58%) and 62% (47–82%) for oral, intranasal and inhaled dosing without charcoal, respectively. The corresponding estimates of nasal and lung absorption, based on the coadministration of charcoal, were < 1% and 36% (27–47%), respectively.

Conclusions  Unchanged BDP has negligible oral and intranasal bioavailability with limited absorption following inhaled dosing due to extensive (95%) presystemic conversion of BDP to B-17-MP in the lung. The oral and intranasal bioavailabilities of the active metabolite B-17-MP were high and similar, but direct absorption in the nose was insignificant. The total inhaled bioavailability of B-17-MP (lung + oral) was also high (62%) and approximately 36% of this was due to pulmonary absorption. Estimates of oral bioavailability and pulmonary deposition based on total BOH were approximately half those found for B-17-MP.