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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Jun;59(6):691-704.

Prediction of drug disposition in infants and children by means of physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modelling: theophylline and midazolam as model drugs.

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Hospital Pharmacy, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö and Division of Pharmacokinetics and Drug Therapy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



To create a general physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model for drug disposition in infants and children, covering the age range from birth to adulthood, and to evaluate it with theophylline and midazolam as model drugs.


Physiological data for neonates, 0.5-, 1-, 2-, 5-, 10- and 15-year-old children, and adults, of both sexes were compiled from the literature. The data comprised body weight and surface area, organ weights, vascular and interstitial spaces, extracellular body water, organ blood flows, cardiac output and glomerular filtration rate. Tissue: plasma partition coefficients were calculated from rat data and unbound fraction (f u) of the drug in human plasma, and age-related changes in unbound intrinsic hepatic clearance were estimated from CYP1A2 and CYP2E1 (theophylline) and CYP3A4 (midazolam) activities in vitro. Volume of distribution (V dss), total and renal clearance (CL and CL R) and elimination half-life (t(1/2)) were estimated by PBPK modelling, as functions of age, and compared with literature data.


The predicted V dss of theophylline was 0.4-0.6 l kg(-1) and showed only a modest change with age. The median prediction error (MPE) compared with literature data was 3.4%. Predicted total CL demonstrated the time-course generally reported in the literature. It was 20 ml h(-1) kg(-1) in the neonate, rising to 73 ml h(-1) kg(-1) at 5 years and then decreasing to 48 ml h(-1) kg(-1) in the adult. Overall, the MPE was - 4.0%. Predicted t(1/2) was 18 h in the neonate, dropping rapidly to 4.6-7.2 h from 6 months onwards, and the MPE was 24%. The predictions for midazolam were also in good agreement with literature data. V dss ranged between 1.0 and 1.7 l kg(-1) and showed only modest change with age. CL was 124 ml h(-1) kg(-1) in the neonate and peaked at 664 ml h(-1) kg(-1) at 5 years before decreasing to 425 ml h(-1) kg(-1) in the adult. Predicted t(1/2) was 6.9 h in the neonate and attained 'adult' values of 2.5-3.5 h from 1 year onwards.


A general PBPK model for the prediction of drug disposition over the age range neonate to young adult is presented. A reference source of physiological data was compiled and validated as far as possible. Since studies of pharmacokinetics in children present obvious practical and ethical difficulties, one aim of the work was to utilize maximally already available data. Prediction of the disposition of theophylline and midazolam, two model drugs with dissimilar physicochemical and pharmacokinetic characteristics, yielded results that generally tallied with literature data. Future use of the model may demonstrate further its strengths and weaknesses.

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