European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 829–846

Toward a mechanical control of drug delivery. On the relationship between Lipinski’s 2nd rule and cytosolic pH changes in doxorubicin resistance levels in cancer cells: a comparison to published data

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00249-009-0429-x

Cite this article as:
Rauch, C. Eur Biophys J (2009) 38: 829. doi:10.1007/s00249-009-0429-x


Based on molecular and physiological resemblance, the mechanism that controls drug bioavailability and toxicity also shares strong similarities to the one that controls drug resistance. In both cases, this mechanism relies on the expression of drug transporters and the physico-chemical properties of drugs, which together alter the intracellular accumulation of chemicals in cells or tissues. However, a parameter that is central and has received great attention in the field of bioavailability, but almost none in the field of drug resistance, is the molecular weight of drugs. In the former area, it is well known that to achieve a reasonable bioavailability, drugs must have—among other properties—a molecular weight less than 500, known as Lipinski’s 2nd rule. Accordingly, it is worth questioning whether a similar rule exists in the field of drug resistance and what subsequent mechanism would control the membrane permeability to drugs as a function of their molecular weight. I demonstrate here that cytosolic pH fixes the molecular weight of drugs entering cells, by altering the cell membrane mechanical properties and that, both cytosolic pH and membrane mechanical properties are needed and sufficient to explain doxorubicin resistance levels in different cancerous cell lines. Finally, I discuss the efficiency of a drug handling activity by transporters in MDR and suggest ways to control drug delivery mechanically. In addition, and for the first time, the literal expression of a Law similar to Lipinski’s 2nd rule will be described as a function of cytosolic pH and lipid number asymmetry.


Endocytosis Lipinski Drug pumping Multi-drug resistance Cytosolic pH Lipid packing 

Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Veterinary Medicine and ScienceUniversity of NottinghamLeicestershireUK