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Can J Hosp Pharm. 2009 Sep;62(5):392-401.

Limited-sampling strategies for anti-infective agents: systematic review.

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BSc(Pharm), ACPR, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist-Infectious Diseases, Kelowna General Hospital, Kelowna, British Columbia.



Area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) is a pharmacokinetic parameter that represents overall exposure to a drug. For selected anti-infective agents, pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic parameters, such as AUC/MIC (where MIC is the minimal inhibitory concentration), have been correlated with outcome in a few studies. A limited-sampling strategy may be used to estimate pharmacokinetic parameters such as AUC, without the frequent, costly, and inconvenient blood sampling that would be required to directly calculate the AUC.


To discuss, by means of a systematic review, the strengths, limitations, and clinical implications of published studies involving a limited-sampling strategy for anti-infective agents and to propose improvements in methodology for future studies.


The PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched using the terms "anti-infective agents", "limited sampling", "optimal sampling", "sparse sampling", "AUC monitoring", "abbreviated AUC", "abbreviated sampling", and "Bayesian". The reference lists of retrieved articles were searched manually. Included studies were classified according to modified criteria from the US Preventive Services Task Force.


Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria. Six of the studies (involving didanosine, zidovudine, nevirapine, ciprofloxacin, efavirenz, and nelfinavir) were classified as providing level I evidence, 4 studies (involving vancomycin, didanosine, lamivudine, and lopinavir-ritonavir) provided level II-1 evidence, 2 studies (involving saquinavir and ceftazidime) provided level II-2 evidence, and 8 studies (involving ciprofloxacin, nelfinavir, vancomycin, ceftazidime, ganciclovir, pyrazinamide, meropenem, and alpha interferon) provided level III evidence. All of the studies providing level I evidence used prospectively collected data and proper validation procedures with separate, randomly selected index and validation groups. However, most of the included studies did not provide an adequate description of the methods or the characteristics of included patients, which limited their generalizability.


Many limited-sampling strategies have been developed for anti-infective agents that do not have a clearly established link between AUC and clinical outcomes in humans. Future studies should first determine if there is an association between AUC monitoring and clinical outcomes. Thereafter, it may be worthwhile to prospectively develop and validate a limited-sampling strategy for the particular anti-infective agent in a similar population.

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