Analysis of the enhanced oral bioavailability of fenofibrate lipid formulations in fasted humans using an in vitro-in silico-in vivo approach

Yang Fei, Edmund S. Kostewicz, Ming Thau Sheu, Jennifer B. Dressman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Lipid-based formulations have established a significant role in the formulation of poorly soluble drugs for oral administration. In order to better understand their potential advantages over solid oral dosage forms, we studied the solubility and dissolution/precipitation characteristics of three self-microemulsifying drug delivery system (SMEDDS) formulations and one suspension of micronized fenofibrate in lipid excipients, for which pharmacokinetic studies had already been reported in the open literature. The in vitro dispersion/dissolution studies were carried out in biorelevant media using USP II apparatus. These were followed up by in silico simulations using STELLA® software, in which not only dispersion/dissolution, but also the precipitation and re-dissolution of fenofibrate was taken into account. While unformulated drug exhibited poor solubility (0.22 μg/mL in FaSSGF and 4.31 μg/mL in FaSSIF-V2(PO4)) and dissolved less than 2% in dissolution tests, the solubility of fenofibrate in the presence of the lipid excipients increased dramatically (e.g., to 65.44 μg/mL in the presence of the Myritol 318/TPGS/Tween 80 SMEDDS) and there was an attendant increase in the dissolution (over 80% from capsules containing the Myritol 318/TPGS/Tween 80 SMEDDS and about 20% from the dispersion of fenofibrate in lipid excipients). For the four lipid-based fenofibrate formulations studied, combining in vitro data in biorelevant media with in silico simulation resulted in accurate prediction of the in vivo human plasma profiles. The point estimates of Cmax and AUC ratio calculated from the in silico and in vivo plasma profiles fell within the 0.8-1.25 range for the SMEDDS solution and capsule formulations, suggesting an accurate simulation of the in vivo profiles. This similarity was confirmed by calculation of the respective f2 factors. Sensitivity analysis of the simulation profiles revealed that the SMEDDS formulations had virtually removed any dependency of absorption on the dissolution rate in the small intestine, whereas for the dispersion in lipid excipients, this barrier remained. Such results pave the way to optimizing the performance of oral lipid-based formulations via an in vitro-in silico-in vivo approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1284
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Issue number3 PART B
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Biorelevant dissolution tests
  • Fenofibrate
  • Lipid-based formulation
  • Oral absorption
  • Permeability
  • Physiologically based pharmacokinetic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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