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AAPS J. 2012 Dec;14(4):657-63. doi: 10.1208/s12248-012-9380-3. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Evaluation of an innovative population pharmacokinetic-based design for behavioral pharmacodynamic endpoints.

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Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics, AstraZeneca R&D Södertälje, 151 85, Södertälje, Sweden.


Pre-clinical behavioral pharmacology studies supporting indications like analgesia typically consist of at least three different studies; dose-finding, duration of effect, and tolerance-development studies. Pharmacokinetic (PK) plasma samples are generally taken from a parallel group of animals to avoid disruption of the behavioral pharmacodynamic (PD) endpoint. Our objective was to investigate if pre-clinical behavioral pharmacology studies in rats could be performed effectively by combining three studies into a single experimental design and using sparse PK sampling in the same animals as for PD. A refined dosing strategy was applied for a muscarinic agonist, AZD6088, using the rat spinal nerve ligation heat hyperalgesia model. PD measurements were performed on day 1, 3, 5 and 8. Two PK samples per day were taken day 2 and 4. In a separate control group, PD measurements were performed on rats without PK sampling. Data was analyzed using a population approach in NONMEM. The animals produced a consistent and reproducible response irrespective of day of testing suggesting that blood sampling on alternate days did not interfere with the PD responses. A direct concentration-effect relationship with good precision was established and no tolerance development was observed. The new design combining three studies into one and eliminating a satellite PK group realized substantial savings compared to the old design; animal use was reduced by 58% and time required to generate results was reduced by 55%. The design described here delivers substantial savings in animal lives, time, and money whilst still delivering a good quality and precise description of the PKPD relationship.

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