Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Bradley D. Anderson


Most drugs undergo passive transport during absorption and distribution in the body. It is desirable to predict passive permeation of future drug candidates in order to increase the productivity of the drug discovery process. Unlike drug-receptor interactions, there is no receptor map for passive permeability because the process of transport across the lipid bilayer involves multiple mechanisms. This work intends to increase the understanding of permeation of drug-like molecules through lipid bilayers.

Drug molecules in solution typically form various species due to ionization, complexation, etc. Therefore, species specific properties must be obtained to bridge the experiment and simulations. Due to the volume contrast between intra- and extravesicular compartments of liposomes, minor perturbations in ionic and binding equilibria become significant contributors to transport rates. Using tyramine as a model amine, quantitative numerical models were developed to determine intrinsic permeability coefficients. The microscopic ionization and binding constants needed for this were independently measured. The partition coefficient in 1,9-decadiene was measured for a series of compounds as a quantitative surrogate for the partitioning into the hydrocarbon region of the bilayer. These studies uncovered an apparent long-range interaction between the two polar substituents that caused deviations in the microscopic pKa values and partition coefficient of tyramine from the expected values. Additionally the partition coefficients in the preferred binding region of the bilayer were also measured by equilibrium uptake into liposomes.

All-atom molecular dynamics simulations of lipid bilayers containing tyramine, 4- ethylphenol, or phenylethylamine provided free energies of transfer of these solutes from water to various locations on the transport path. The experimentally measured partition coefficients were consistent with the free energy profiles in showing the barrier in the hydrocarbon region and preferred binding region near the interface. The substituent contributions to these free energies were also quantitatively consistent between the experiments and simulations. Specific interactions between solutes and the bilayer suggest that amphiphiles are likely to show preferred binding in the head group region and that the most of hydrogen bonds involving solutes located inside the bilayer are with water molecules. Solute re-orientation inside the bilayer lowers the partitioning barrier by allowing favorable interactions.