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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Apr;75(4):324-30.

Changes in drug plasma concentrations of an extensively bound and highly extracted drug, propofol, in response to altered plasma binding.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Clinical Pharmacology, Gunma University, Showa-machi, Maebashi, Japan.



Cardiopulmonary bypass is known to result in a reduction in the plasma binding of drugs. The resulting effect on the hepatic clearance of drugs with low extraction is well understood. However, the situation with those that are highly extracted is less clear. Studies were, therefore, undertaken with one such drug, propofol, for which plasma binding was changed during cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.


After induction of anesthesia with midazolam in 19 patients, propofol was infused continuously at a rate of 4 mg. kg(-1). h(-1) during surgery. Propofol's concentration was measured by HPLC in blood samples collected from the radial artery and hepatic vein during surgery at predetermined intervals. The drug's unbound fraction in arterial plasma was estimated via equilibrium dialysis.


The total concentration of propofol in blood was unchanged during surgery except shortly after the initiation of cardiopulmonary bypass. By contrast, the fraction of unbound propofol in blood increased by 2-fold during cardiopulmonary bypass and then decreased after the completion of cardiopulmonary bypass. The hepatic extraction ratio of propofol was greater than 0.8 and remained constant throughout surgery. The ratio of propofol concentration in erythrocytes to that in blood increased by 1.6-fold during cardiopulmonary bypass.


During cardiopulmonary bypass, a significant increase in the concentration of unbound propofol occurred without alteration in the total propofol concentration in blood. The effect of the changes of propofol's protein binding on its kinetics was consistent with the predictions based on the well-stirred model of hepatic elimination for an intravenously infused high-clearance drug. Our finding on propofol pharmacokinetics may be the first example demonstrating the theoretic prediction of the well-stirred model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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