Gastrointestinal transit and 5-ASA release from a new mesalazine extended-release formulation


Correspondence to: Dr M. Brunner, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Division of Clinical Pharmacokinetics, University of Vienna Medical School, Allgemeines Krankenhaus, Währinger Gürtel 18–20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:


Background : Mesalazine (5-aminosalicylic acid, 5-ASA)-containing formulations represent a cornerstone in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Recently, a new formulation has been developed to provide selective and more homogeneous release of 5-ASA compared to traditional systems.

Methods : In a first study, gastrointestinal transit was followed by gamma-scintigraphy after single-dose application of tablets containing 1200 mg mesalazine to 12 healthy male volunteers. 5-ASA release was verified by the assessment of plasma pharmacokinetics. In a second, 7-day, multiple-dose study, the steady state plasma pharmacokinetics, urinary excretion and safety profile were characterized after twice-daily tablet administration to 12 healthy volunteers.

Results : Tablet erosion started after 6.9 ± 1.1 h in the ascending or transverse colon. Radioactivity spread homogeneously throughout the colon, indicating the sustained release of active 5-ASA. Plasma kinetics indicated an earlier initial absorption of 5-ASA, i.e. during transit of the small intestine and ileum. Mean Cmax values (350.6 ± 322.6 ng/mL) were observed during location in the ileo-caecal region. The mean relative absorption of 5-ASA was 19.9 ± 18.2% in the small intestine and ileum and 80.1 ± 18.2% in the colon.

Conclusions : The administration of the new mesalazine formulation was well tolerated, and 5-ASA was continuously released along the whole colon, a favourable prerequisite for the therapy of distally located inflammatory bowel disease.