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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Sep;185(3):593-9.

Population pharmacokinetics of magnesium in preeclampsia.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to determine the population pharmacokinetics of magnesium from sparse observational data in patients with preeclampsia.


Serum magnesium concentrations (1-11 per patient) were obtained retrospectively from the records of 116 patients with preeclampsia who had a loading dose of magnesium sulfate (16 or 20 mmol), followed by a maintenance dose (1 mmol/h) over an average of 28 hours. Population clearance, volume of distribution, and the baseline magnesium concentration were estimated using the NONMEM program.


The following population typical values, together with the interpatient variability (expressed as coefficient of variation) were obtained with the use of a 1-compartment model: systemic clearance, 4.28 L/h (37.3%); volume of distribution, 32.3 L (32.1%); baseline concentration, 0.811 mmol/L (18.5%). The average half-life was 5.2 hours. Clonus was not obtunded in 4 patients whose serum magnesium concentrations were similar to the average concentration of 1.7 mmol/L. The variability remaining unexplained after the population model was fitted to the data was 6.5% to 10.8%.


This study extended knowledge of the pharmacokinetic disposition of magnesium in preeclampsia. The results are potentially useful for the calculation of loading and maintenance doses, particularly when the relationship between serum concentration and effect in preeclampsia is clarified.

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