Successful opacification of the gallbladder during oral cholecystography depends on adequate absorption of the contrast agent from the intestine. The present studies were undertaken to define the specific characteristics of the intestinal mucosa and the properties of the various contrast agents which determine their rates of intestinal absorption. The polarity of the compounds was established by determining the ratios of their distribution between bulk solvents (benzene and water). In addition, the maximum aqueous solubility of each compound was determined. Using in vivo cannulated segments of dog jejunum, apparent passive permeability coefficients were measured. From these data, the apparent maximal rate of intestinal absorption was calculated. The six cholecystopaques studied differed markedly in polarity as judged by their varying ratios of distribution between benzene and water. The permeability coefficients varied inversely with the polarity of the compounds. However, the incremental changes in the coefficients were considerably less than the corresponding changes observed in the partition ratios. The rates of absorption of the more polar contrast agents (tyropanoate, iopronic acid, and iocetamic acid) were greater than the less polar compounds (iopanoic acid, sodium ipodate, and calcium ipodate) under the conditions in which the resistance of the unstirred water layer is not rate limiting and where bile acid micelles are not present.
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