Skip to main content

The Effect of Different Concentrations of Mannitol in Solution on Small Intestinal Transit: Implications for Drug Absorption


The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect that different concentrations of mannitol have on small intestinal transit, and whether any observed effect was concentration dependent. Eight, healthy male subjects each received 200ml of radiolabelled purified water, or a 200ml solution of mannitol at three different concentrations; 0.755g/200ml, 1.509g/200ml and 2.264g/200ml, in a randomised, four way cross-over study. Transit of the radiolabelled solutions was followed by gamma scintigraphy. The study demonstrated no significant differences between the gastric emptying times of the four solutions. Rapid gastric emptying was observed in most cases. The mean small intestinal transit times for the 0.755g/200ml, 1.509g/200ml and 2.264g/200ml mannitol solutions was reduced by 11%, 23% and 34% respectively, when compared to the control solution. The intestinal transit data of the four solutions demonstrate that mannitol has a concentration dependent effect on small intestinal transit. Small concentrations of mannitol included in a pharmaceutical formulation could therefore lead to reduced uptake with any drug exclusively absorbed from the small intestine.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    A.T. Florence and D. Attwood. Principles of drug absorption. In A.T. Florence and D. Attwood (eds), Physicochemical Principles of Pharmacy, Macmillan Education Ltd, Hong Kong, 1986 pp 325–400

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    N. Follonier and E. Doelker. Biopharmaceutical comparison of oral multiple unit and single unit sustained release dosage forms. S.T.P. Pharma. Sciences. 2: 141–158 (1992)

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    J.R. Bennett. The normal motility patterns and motility disturbances in disease. R. Whitehead (ed), Gastrointestinal and oesphageal pathology, Churchill Livingstone pp 107–109

  4. 4.

    P. Kerlin, A. Zinsmeister, and S.F. Phillips. Relationship of motility to flow of contents in the human small intestine. Gastroenterology. 82: 701–706 (1982)

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    S.S. Davis, J.G. Hardy, and J.W. Fara. Transit of pharmaceutical dosage forms through the small intestine. Gut. 27: 886–892 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    M.J. Mundy, C.G. Wilson, and J.G. Hardy. The effect of eating on transit through the small intestine. Nucl.Med.Commun. 10: 45–50 (1989)

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    K.M. Koch, A.F. Parr, J.J. Tomlinson, E.P. Sandefer, G.A. Digenis, K.H. Donn, and J.R. Powell. Effect of sodium acid pyrophosphate on ranitidine bioavailability and gastrointestinal transit time. Pharm. Res. 10: 1027–1030 (1993).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    E.K. Salminen, S.J. Salminen, L. Porkka, P. Kwasowki, V. Marks, and P.E. Koivistoinen. Xylitol vs glucose: effect on the rate of gastric emptying and motilin, insulin, and gastric inhibitory polypeptide release. Am J. Clin. Nutr. 49:1228–1232 (1989)

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    I.R. Wilding, S.S. Davis, K.P. Steed, R.A. Sparrow, J. Westrup, and J.M. Hempenstall. Gastrointestinal transit of a drug resinate administered as an oral suspension. Int J. Pharm. 101: 263–268 (1994)

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    P. Wursch, B. Koellreuter, and T.F. Schweizer. Hydrogen excretion after ingestion of five different sugar alcohols and lactulose. Eur.J.Clin.Nutr. 43: 819–825 (1989)

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    D.R. Saunders and H.S. Wiggins. Conservation of mannitol, lactulose, and raffinose by the human colon. Am.J.Physiol. 241: G397–G402 (1981)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    M.F. Laker, H.J. Bull, and I.S. Menzies. Evaluation of mannitol for use as a probe marker of gastrointestinal permeability in man. Eur.J.Clin.Invest. 12: 485–491 (1982)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    F.W. Ellis and J.C. Krantz. (1941). Sugar alcohols. J. Biol. Chem. 141, 147–156

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    K. Launiala. The effect of unabsorbed sucrose and mannitol on the small intestinal flow rate and mean transit time. Scand.J. Gastroent. 39: 665–671 (1968)

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    K. Launiala. The effect of unabsorbed sucrose or mannitol induced accelerated transit on absorption in the human small intestine. Scand.J.Gastroent. 4: 25–32 (1969)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    I.S. Menzies, A.P. Jenkins, E. Heduan, S.D. Catt, M.B. Segal, and B. Creamer. The effect of poorly absorbed solute on intestinal absorption. Scand.J.Gastroent. 25: 1257–1264 (1990)

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    D.A. Adkin, S.S. Davis, R.A. Sparrow, P.D. Huckle, A.J. Phillips, and I.R. Wilding. A volunteer study to investigate the effects that different pharmaceutical excipients have on small intestinal transit. Br.J.Clin.Pharmac. (in press).

  18. 18.

    P. Tothill, G.P. Mcloughlin, and R.C. Heading. Techniques and errors in scintigraphic measurements of gastric emptying. J.Nucl. Med. 19, 256–261 (1978)

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    J.N. Hunt and W.R. Spurrell. The pattern of emptying of the human stomach. J.Physiol (Lond) 113, 157–168 (1951)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    J.N. Hunt. Some properties of an alimentary osmoreceptor mechanism. J.Physiol.(Lond) 132, 267–288 (1956)

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    F. Kern Jr. and J.E. Struthers. Intestinal lactase deficiency and lactose intolerance in adults. J.Amer.Med.Assoc. 195, 143–146 (1966)

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    K. Launiala. The mechanism of diarrhoea in congenital disaccharide malabsorption. Acta.Paediat.Scand. 57, 425–432 (1968)

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    J.S. Fordtran, R. Levitan, V. Bikerman, and B.A. Burrows. The kinetics of water absorption in the human small intestine. Trans.Ass.Am.Phys. 74, 195–206 (1966)

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    N.W. Read. Diarrheé motrice. Clinics in gastroenterology. 15, 657–686 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    R.L. Dillard, H. Eastman, and J.S. Fordtran. Volume-flow relationship during the transport of fluid through the human small intestine. Gastroenterology. 49, 58–66 (1965)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ian R. Wilding.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Adkin, D.A., Davis, S.S., Sparrow, R.A. et al. The Effect of Different Concentrations of Mannitol in Solution on Small Intestinal Transit: Implications for Drug Absorption. Pharm Res 12, 393–396 (1995).

Download citation

  • mannitol
  • small intestinal transit
  • drug absorption
  • gamma scintigraphy