Recent Experimental Developments in Studying Passive Membrane Transport of Drug Molecules

The ability to measure the passive membrane permeation of drug-like molecules is of fundamental biological and pharmaceutical importance. Of significance, passive diffusion across the cellular membranes plays an effective role in the delivery of many pharmaceutical agents to intracellular targets. Hence, approaches for quantitative measurement of membrane permeability have been the topics of research for decades, resulting in sophisticated biomimetic systems coupled with advanced techniques. In this review, recent developments in experimental approaches along with theoretical models for quantitative and real-time analysis of membrane transport of drug-like molecules through mimetic and living cell membranes are discussed. The focus is on time-resolved fluorescence-based, surface plasmon resonance, and second-harmonic light scattering approaches. The current understanding of how properties of the membrane and permeant affect the permeation process is discussed.