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Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 15;17(8):2512-20. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2736. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Pharmacokinetics of hedgehog pathway inhibitor vismodegib (GDC-0449) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors: the role of alpha-1-acid glycoprotein binding.

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  • 1Genentech Inc, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.



In a phase I trial for patients with refractory solid tumors, hedgehog pathway inhibitor vismodegib (GDC-0449) showed little decline in plasma concentrations over 7 days after a single oral dose and nonlinearity with respect to dose and time after single and multiple dosing. We studied the role of GDC-0449 binding to plasma protein alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AAG) to better understand these unusual pharmacokinetics.


Sixty-eight patients received GDC-0449 at 150 (n = 41), 270 (n = 23), or 540 (n = 4) mg/d, with pharmacokinetic (PK) sampling at multiple time points. Total and unbound (dialyzed) GDC-0449 plasma concentrations were assessed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry, binding kinetics by surface plasmon resonance-based microsensor, and AAG levels by ELISA.


A linear relationship between total GDC-0449 and AAG plasma concentrations was observed across dose groups (R(2) = 0.73). In several patients, GDC-0449 levels varied with fluctuations in AAG levels over time. Steady-state, unbound GDC-0449 levels were less than 1% of total, independent of dose or total plasma concentration. In vitro, GDC-0449 binds AAG strongly and reversibly (K(D) = 13 μmol/L) and human serum albumin less strongly (K(D) = 120 μmol/L). Simulations from a derived mechanistic PK model suggest that GDC-0449 pharmacokinetics are mediated by AAG binding, solubility-limited absorption, and slow metabolic elimination.


GDC-0449 levels strongly correlated with AAG levels, showing parallel fluctuations of AAG and total drug over time and consistently low, unbound drug levels, different from previously reported AAG-binding drugs. This PK profile is due to high-affinity, reversible binding to AAG and binding to albumin, in addition to solubility-limited absorption and slow metabolic elimination properties.

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