Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Donovan, Maureen

First Committee Member

Flanagan, Douglas

Second Committee Member

Salem, Aliasger

Third Committee Member

Assem, Mahfoud

Fourth Committee Member

Scheetz, Todd


The nasal route has primarily been used to deliver drugs for the treatment of local diseases such as nasal infections, nasal congestion and allergies. The nasal route can also be used as a non-invasive alternative route to deliver drugs systemically when a rapid onset of action and/or avoidance of hepatic metabolism are desired. Moreover, there is a growing interest in the use of this route for direct transport of drugs from the nose to the brain. Most of the drugs that have been studied for nasal delivery are either small molecules which are lipophilic enough to passively diffuse through the nasal epithelia or macromolecules where bioavailabilities less than 1% are clinically effective and acceptable. This study focused on identifying carrier proteins or transporters in the nasal mucosa that could improve the absorption of specific drug substrates across the nasal respiratory and olfactory epithelia.

The presence of drug transporters in the nasal mucosa of humans and commonly used animal models were investigated. DNA microarray results for nasal samples from humans and two commonly used models, mice and rats, were obtained from GenBank and were analyzed in collaboration with the University of Iowa Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. While cow tissues are frequently used in in-vitro nasal permeability analyses, there is limited information available in GenBank for this species. Both DNA microarray analysis and RT-PCR were performed on bovine nasal explants to determine transporter expression. Good agreement between the microarray and RT-PCR results was observed.

While human and three animal species commonly used as models in nasal drug delivery research (mouse, rat, and cow) show similar patterns of expression for several transporters, interspecies differences in the level of expression were observed. Therefore, the expression level of transporters remains a factor to consider when translating results obtained using animal models to humans.

The nucleoside transporter family was selected for further evaluation of the potential to improve the nasal absorption of substrates. Nucleoside transporters are integral proteins responsible for mediating and facilitating the flux of nucleosides across cellular membranes; they are also known to be responsible for the uptake of nucleoside analog drugs such as anti-cancer and anti-viral agents. RT-PCR and Western blotting were used to verify the presence of two transporter subtypes, ENT1 and CNT3, in the bovine nasal respiratory and olfactory mucosa. The expression level of both transporters in the respiratory mucosa was comparable to that in the olfactory mucosa. Using immunohistochemistry, ENT1 and CNT3 were found to be localized primarily at the apical surface of the nasal epithelial cells. This indicates that the nasal epithelium likely absorbs exogenous nucleosides for intracellular uses such as nucleic acid synthesis and regulating other cellular activities.

The contribution of the nucleoside transporters to the permeation of a nucleoside analogue drug, alovudine, across the nasal epithelia was also studied. The transport of alovudine showed a non-linear increase with increasing donor concentration over the range of 50 to 3000 µM which suggests that nucleoside transporters play a role in its uptake. Polarized transport was not observed suggesting that the facilitative nature of ENT1 plays a major role in alovudine transport. S-(4-nitrobenzyl)-6-thioinosine (NBMPR), an ENT1 inhibitor, incompletely decreased alovudine permeability across the nasal mucosa. This demonstrates that at least one transporter, ENT, plays a significant role in the uptake of this nucleoside drug across the nasal mucosa.


Animal models, Drug transporters, Nasal drug delivery, Nucleoside transporters


xiv, 168 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 160-168).


Copyright 2014 Manar I. Al-Ghabeish