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Population pharmacokinetics of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin during long-term oral administration of artesunate to patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Journal article
Authors Therese Ericsson
Antje Blank
Cornelia von Hagens
Michael Ashton
Angela Abelö
Published in European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Volume 70
Issue 12
Pages 1453-63
ISSN 0031-6970
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 1453-63
Language en
Subject categories Clinical pharmacology, Cancer and Oncology


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study were firstly to characterize the population pharmacokinetics of artesunate (ARS) and its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in patients with metastatic breast cancer during long-term (>3 weeks) daily oral ARS administration and secondly to study the relationship between salivary and plasma concentrations of DHA. METHODS: Drug concentration-time data from 23 patients, receiving oral ARS (100, 150, or 200 mg OD), was analyzed using nonlinear mixed effects modeling. A combined drug-metabolite population pharmacokinetic model was developed to describe the plasma pharmacokinetics of ARS and DHA in plasma. Saliva drug concentrations were incorporated as being directly proportional to plasma concentrations. RESULTS: A first-order absorption model for ARS linked to a combined two-compartment disposition model for ARS and one-compartment disposition model for DHA provided the best fit to the data. No covariates were identified that could explain between-subject variability. A time-dependent increase in apparent elimination clearance of DHA was observed. Salivary DHA concentrations were proportionally correlated with total DHA plasma concentrations, with an estimated slope factor of 0.116. CONCLUSIONS: Population pharmacokinetics of ARS and DHA in patients with breast cancer was well described by a combined drug-metabolite model without any covariates and with an increase in apparent elimination clearance of DHA over time. The estimated DHA saliva/plasma ratio was in good agreement with the reported DHA unbound fraction in human plasma. Saliva ARS concentrations correlated poorly with plasma concentrations. This suggests the use of saliva sampling for therapeutic drug monitoring of DHA. However, further studies are warranted to investigate the robustness of this approach.

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