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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2007 Dec;51(12):4308-14. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Pharmacokinetics of acyclovir after intravenous infusion of acyclovir and after oral administration of acyclovir and its prodrug valacyclovir in healthy adult horses.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, Biochemistry, and Organ Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


The purpose of this study was twofold. The first aim was to evaluate the oral bioavailability and pharmacokinetics (PKs) of acyclovir in horses after intravenous (i.v.) administration and after oral administration of acyclovir and its prodrug, valacyclovir. Second, we aimed to combine these PK data with pharmacodynamic (PD) information, i.e., 50% effective concentrations (EC(50) values) from in vitro studies, to design an optimal dosage schedule. Three treatments were administered to healthy adult horses: 10 mg of acyclovir/kg of body weight delivered as an i.v. infusion over 1 h, 20 mg of acyclovir/kg administered as tablets by nasogastric intubation, and 20 mg of valacyclovir/kg administered as tablets by nasogastric intubation. Total plasma concentrations were measured by a high-performance liquid chromatography method combined with fluorescence detection, while unbound plasma concentrations were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The peak concentration of i.v. acyclovir was approximately 10 mug/ml for both the total and the unbound plasma concentrations. The mean half-life of elimination was between 5.05 h (total concentration) and 11.9 h (unbound concentration). Oral administration of acyclovir resulted in low maximum concentration in plasma (C(max)) and poor bioavailability. A 10-times-higher C(max) and an 8-times-higher bioavailability were achieved with oral administration of valacyclovir. The i.v. administration of 10 mg/kg acyclovir and the oral administration of 20 mg/kg valacyclovir achieved concentrations within the sensitivity range of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1). The higher bioavailability of valacyclovir makes it an attractive candidate for the prophylactic and/or therapeutic treatment of horses infected with EHV-1. The results from the PK/PD modeling showed that a dosage of 40 mg/kg valacyclovir, administered three times daily, would be sufficient to reach plasma concentrations above the EC(50) values.

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