To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance.
In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4 mg kg−1) on the first day and oral ARS (4 mg kg−1) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4 mg kg−1 day−1) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum).
I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n = 20) and in controls (n = 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ng ml−1 h)/(mg kg−1)] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P = 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P = 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P = 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P = 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P = 0.084).
This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.
artesunate; dihyroartemisinin; malaria; pharmacokinetics; post partum; pregnancy
Although artesunate is clearly superior, parenteral quinine is still used widely for the treatment of severe malaria. A loading-dose regimen has been recommended for 30 years but is still often not used. A population pharmacokinetic study was conducted with 75 Tanzanian children aged 4 months to 8 years with severe malaria who received quinine intramuscularly; 69 patients received a loading dose of 20 mg quinine dihydrochloride (salt)/kg of body weight. Twenty-one patients had plasma quinine concentrations detectable at baseline. A zero-order absorption model with one-compartment disposition pharmacokinetics described the data adequately. Body weight was the only significant covariate and was implemented as an allometric function on clearance and volume parameters. Population pharmacokinetic parameter estimates (and percent relative standard errors [%RSE]) of elimination clearance, central volume of distribution, and duration of zero-order absorption were 0.977 liters/h (6.50%), 16.7 liters (6.39%), and 1.42 h (21.5%), respectively, for a typical patient weighing 11 kg. Quinine exposure was reduced at lower body weights after standard weight-based dosing; there was 18% less exposure over 24 h in patients weighing 5 kg than in those weighing 25 kg. Maximum plasma concentrations after the loading dose were unaffected by body weight. There was no evidence of dose-related drug toxicity with the loading dosing regimen. Intramuscular quinine is rapidly and reliably absorbed in children with severe falciparum malaria. Based on these pharmacokinetic data, a loading dose of 20 mg salt/kg is recommended, provided that no loading dose was administered within 24 h and no routine dose was administered within 12 h of admission. (This study has been registered with Current Controlled Trials under registration number ISRCTN 50258054.)
Background. Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum is a major threat to global malaria control. Parasites develop resistance by gradually acquiring genetic polymorphisms that decrease drug susceptibility. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which parasites with different genetic characteristics are able to withstand individual drug blood concentrations.
Methods. We analyzed 2 clinical trials that assessed the efficacy and effectiveness of artemether-lumefantrine. As a proof of concept, we used measured day 7 lumefantrine concentrations to estimate the concentrations at which reinfections multiplied. P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene 1 (pfmdr1) genotypes of these parasites were then correlated to drug susceptibility.
Results. Reinfecting parasites with the pfmdr1 N86/184F/D1246 haplotype were able to withstand lumefantrine blood concentrations 15-fold higher than those with the 86Y/Y184/1246Y haplotype.
Conclusions. By estimating drug concentrations, we were able to quantify the contribution of pfmdr1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms to reduced lumefantrine susceptibility. The method can be applied to all long–half-life antimalarial drugs, enables early detection of P. falciparum with reduced drug susceptibility in vivo, and represents a novel way for unveiling molecular markers of antimalarial drug resistance.
Plasmodium falciparum; malaria; pfmdr1; lumefantrine; artemether-lumefantrine; antimalarials; pharmacokinetics; drug resistance; in vivo
Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of developing a malaria infection and a higher risk of developing severe malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of many anti-malarials are also altered during pregnancy, often resulting in a decreased drug exposure. Piperaquine is a promising anti-malarial partner drug used in a fixed-dose combination with dihydroartemisinin. The aim of this study was to investigate the population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in pregnant and non-pregnant Sudanese women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
Symptomatic patients received a standard dose regimen of the fixed dose oral piperaquine-dihydroartemisinin combination treatment. Densely sampled plasma aliquots were collected and analysed using a previously described LC-MS/MS method. Data from 12 pregnant and 12 non-pregnant women were analysed using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. A Monte Carlo Mapped Power (MCMP) analysis was conducted based on a previously published study to evaluate the power of detecting covariates in this relatively small study.
A three-compartment disposition model with a transit-absorption model described the observed data well. Body weight was added as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. A statistically significant decrease in estimated terminal piperaquine half-life in pregnant compared with non-pregnant women was found, but there were no differences in post-hoc estimates of total piperaquine exposure. The MCMP analysis indicated a minimum of 13 pregnant and 13 non-pregnant women were required to identify pregnancy as a covariate on relevant pharmacokinetic parameters (80% power and p=0.05). Pregnancy was, therefore, evaluated as a categorical and continuous covariate (i.e. estimate gestational age) in a full covariate approach. Using this approach pregnancy was not associated with any major change in piperaquine elimination clearance. However, a trend of increasing elimination clearance with increasing gestational age could be seen.
The population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were well described by a three-compartment disposition model in pregnant and non-pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. The modelling approach showed no major difference in piperaquine exposure between the two groups and data presented here do not warrant a dose adjustment in pregnancy in this vulnerable population.
Malaria; Piperaquine; Pregnancy; Population pharmacokinetics; Nonlinear mixed-effects modelling
New treatment strategies are needed for artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. This randomized trial shows that neither increasing nor splitting the standard once-daily artesunate dose reverses the markedly reduced parasite clearance rate in patients with artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria.
Background. The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins on the Cambodian and Myanmar-Thai borders poses severe threats to malaria control. We investigated whether increasing or splitting the dose of the short-half-life drug artesunate improves parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in the 2 regions.
Methods. In Pailin, western Cambodia (from 2008 to 2010), and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand (2009–2010), patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to oral artesunate 6 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 7 days, or artesunate 8 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 3 days, followed by mefloquine. Parasite clearance and recrudescence for up to 63 days of follow-up were assessed.
Results. A total of 159 patients were enrolled. Overall median (interquartile range [IQR]) parasitemia half-life (half-life) was 6.03 (4.89–7.28) hours in Pailin versus 3.42 (2.20–4.85) hours in Wang Pha (P = .0001). Splitting or increasing the artesunate dose did not shorten half-life in either site. Pharmacokinetic profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were similar between sites and did not correlate with half-life. Recrudescent infections occurred in 4 of 79 patients in Pailin and 5 of 80 in Wang Pha and was not different between treatment arms (P = .68).
Conclusions. Increasing the artesunate treatment dose up to 8 mg/kg/d or splitting the dose does not improve parasite clearance in either artemisinin resistant or more sensitive infections with P. falciparum.
Clinical Trials Registration. ISRCTN15351875.
artemisinins; drug resistance; Plasmodium falciparum; neutropenia; reticulocytopenia
Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai–Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance.
In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance.
We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate–mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P = 0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco–endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups.
P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)
Amodiaquine is effective for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria, but there is little information on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine in pregnant women with malaria. This study evaluated the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and its biologically active metabolite, desethylamodiaquine, in pregnant women with P. vivax infection and again after delivery. Twenty-seven pregnant women infected with P. vivax malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border were treated with amodiaquine monotherapy (10 mg/kg/day) once daily for 3 days. Nineteen women, with and without P. vivax infections, returned to receive the same amodiaquine dose postpartum. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine plasma concentrations were described accurately by lagged first-order absorption with a two-compartment disposition model followed by a three-compartment disposition of desethylamodiaquine under the assumption of complete in vivo conversion. Body weight was implemented as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. Amodiaquine clearance decreased linearly with age, and absorption lag time was reduced in pregnant patients. Recurrent malaria infections in pregnant women were modeled with a time-to-event model consisting of a constant-hazard function with an inhibitory effect of desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine treatment reduced the risk of recurrent infections from 22.2% to 7.4% at day 35. In conclusion, pregnancy did not have a clinically relevant impact on the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine or desethylamodiaquine. No dose adjustments are required in pregnancy.
Malaria in pregnancy increases the risk of maternal anemia, abortion and low birth weight. Approximately 85.3 million pregnancies occur annually in areas with Plasmodium falciparum transmission. Pregnancy has been reported to alter the pharmacokinetic properties of many anti-malarial drugs. Reduced drug exposure increases the risk of treatment failure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin in pregnant women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Uganda.
Twenty-one women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy received the fixed oral combination of 80 mg artemether and 480 mg lumefantrine twice daily for three days. Artemether and dihydroartemisinin plasma concentrations after the last dose administration were quantified using liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass-spectroscopy. A simultaneous drug-metabolite population pharmacokinetic model for artemether and dihydroartemisinin was developed taking into account different disposition, absorption, error and covariate models. A separate modeling approach and a non-compartmental analysis (NCA) were also performed to enable a comparison with literature values and different modeling strategies.
The treatment was well tolerated and there were no cases of recurrent malaria. A flexible absorption model with sequential zero-order and transit-compartment absorption followed by a simultaneous one-compartment disposition model for both artemether and dihydroartemisinin provided the best fit to the data. Artemether and dihydroartemisinin exposure was lower than that reported in non-pregnant populations. An approximately four-fold higher apparent volume of distribution for dihydroartemisinin was obtained by non-compartmental analysis and separate modeling compared to that from simultaneous modeling of the drug and metabolite. This highlights a potential pitfall when analyzing drug/metabolite data with traditional approaches.
The population pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and dihydroartemisinin, in pregnant women with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Uganda, were described satisfactorily by a simultaneous drug-metabolite model without covariates. Concentrations of artemether and its metabolite dihydroartemisinin were relatively low in pregnancy compared to literature data. However, this should be interpreted with caution considered the limited literature available. Further studies in larger series are urgently needed for this vulnerable group.
Non-linear mixed effects modeling; Pharmacokinetics; Artemether; Dihydroartemisinin; Pregnancy; Malaria
Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is currently recommended as first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, but of concern, it has been observed that the effectiveness of the main artemisinin derivative, artesunate, has been diminished due to parasite resistance. This reduction in effect highlights the importance of the partner drugs in ACT and provides motivation to gain more knowledge of their pharmacokinetic (PK) properties via population PK studies. Optimal design methodology has been developed for population PK studies, which analytically determines a sampling schedule that is clinically feasible and yields precise estimation of model parameters. In this work, optimal design methodology was used to determine sampling designs for typical future population PK studies of the partner drugs (mefloquine, lumefantrine, piperaquine and amodiaquine) co-administered with artemisinin derivatives.
The optimal designs were determined using freely available software and were based on structural PK models from the literature and the key specifications of 100 patients with five samples per patient, with one sample taken on the seventh day of treatment. The derived optimal designs were then evaluated via a simulation-estimation procedure.
For all partner drugs, designs consisting of two sampling schedules (50 patients per schedule) with five samples per patient resulted in acceptable precision of the model parameter estimates.
The sampling schedules proposed in this paper should be considered in future population pharmacokinetic studies where intensive sampling over many days or weeks of follow-up is not possible due to either ethical, logistic or economical reasons.
Artemisinin-based combination therapy; Partner drugs; Optimal design
The pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were investigated in 12 pregnant and 12 well-matched, non-pregnant women receiving a three-day oral fixed dose combination regimen of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine for treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum at New Halfa Hospital in eastern Sudan. Frequent venous plasma samples were drawn from the patients over a 63-day period and a complete concentration–time profile was collected for 7 pregnant and 11 non-pregnant patients. Piperaquine was quantified using a liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry method. Pregnant women had a significantly higher total drug exposure (median area under the curve [range] = 1,770 [1,200–5,600] hr × ng/mL versus 858 [325–2,370] hr × ng/mL; P = 0.018) and longer time to maximal concentration (4.00 [1.50–4.03] hr versus 1.50 [0.500–8.00] hr; P = 0.02) after the first dose compared with non-pregnant women. There was no other significant difference observed in piperaquine pharmacokinetics between pregnant and non-pregnant women, including no difference in total drug exposure or maximum concentration. The overall pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine in this study were consistent with previously published reports in non-pregnant patients.
Co-administration of artemether/lumefantrine with antiretroviral therapy has potential for pharmacokinetic drug interactions. We investigated drug–drug interactions between artemether/lumefantrine and efavirenz or nevirapine.
We performed a cross-over study in which HIV-infected adults received standard six-dose artemether/lumefantrine 80/480 mg before and at efavirenz or nevirapine steady state. Artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine, efavirenz and nevirapine plasma concentrations were measured and compared.
Efavirenz significantly reduced artemether maximum concentration (Cmax) and plasma AUC (median 29 versus 12 ng/mL, P < 0.01, and 119 versus 25 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01), dihydroartemisinin Cmax and AUC (median 120 versus 26 ng/mL, P < 0.01, and 341 versus 84 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01), and lumefantrine Cmax and AUC (median 8737 versus 6331 ng/mL, P = 0.03, and 280 370 versus 124 381 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01). Nevirapine significantly reduced artemether Cmax and AUC (median 28 versus 11 ng/mL, P < 0.01, and 123 versus 34 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01) and dihydroartemisinin Cmax and AUC (median 107 versus 59 ng/mL, P < 0.01, and 364 versus 228 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01). Lumefantrine Cmax and AUC were non-significantly reduced by nevirapine. Artemether/lumefantrine reduced nevirapine Cmax and AUC (median 8620 versus 4958 ng/mL, P < 0.01, and 66 329 versus 35 728 ng · h/mL, P < 0.01), but did not affect efavirenz exposure.
Co-administration of artemether/lumefantrine with efavirenz or nevirapine resulted in a reduction in artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine and nevirapine exposure. These drug interactions may increase the risk of malaria treatment failure and development of resistance to artemether/lumefantrine and nevirapine. Clinical data from population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic trials evaluating the impact of these drug interactions are urgently needed.
antimalarial; antiretroviral; malaria; drugs
Severe malaria is a medical emergency with high mortality. Prompt achievement of therapeutic concentrations of highly effective anti-malarial drugs reduces the risk of death. The aim of this study was to assess the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of intravenous artesunate in Ugandan adults with severe malaria.
Fourteen adults with severe falciparum malaria requiring parenteral therapy were treated with 2.4 mg/kg intravenous artesunate. Blood samples were collected after the initial dose and plasma concentrations of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin measured by solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The study was approved by the Makerere University Faculty of Medicine Research and Ethics Committee (Ref2010-015) and Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (HS605) and registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01122134).
All study participants achieved prompt resolution of symptoms and complete parasite clearance with median (range) parasite clearance time of 17 (8–24) hours. Median (range) maximal artesunate concentration (Cmax) was 3260 (1020–164000) ng/mL, terminal elimination half-life (T1/2) was 0.25 (0.1-1.8) hours and total artesunate exposure (AUC) was 727 (290–111256) ng·h/mL. Median (range) dihydroartemisinin Cmax was 3140 (1670–9530) ng/mL, with Tmax of 0.14 (0.6 – 6.07) hours and T1/2 of 1.31 (0.8–2.8) hours. Dihydroartemisinin AUC was 3492 (2183–6338) ng·h/mL. None of the participants reported adverse events.
Plasma concentrations of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were achieved rapidly with rapid and complete symptom resolution and parasite clearance with no adverse events.
Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacodynamics; Intravenous; Artesunate; Severe malaria
Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of antimalarial drugs are often affected by pregnancy, resulting in lower drug concentrations and a consequently higher risk of treatment failure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Twenty-four pregnant and 24 matched nonpregnant women on the Thai-Myanmar boarder were treated with a standard fixed oral 3-day treatment, and venous plasma concentrations of both drugs were measured frequently for pharmacokinetic evaluation. Population pharmacokinetics were evaluated with nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The main pharmacokinetic finding was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but reduced exposure to dihydroartemisinin in pregnant compared to nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Piperaquine was best described by a three-compartment disposition model with a 45% higher elimination clearance and a 47% increase in relative bioavailability in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but a shorter terminal elimination half-life. Dihydroartemisinin was best described by a one-compartment disposition model with a 38% lower relative bioavailability in pregnant women than nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was a decreased total exposure to dihydroartemisinin. The shorter terminal elimination half-life of piperaquine and lower exposure to dihydroartemisinin will shorten the posttreatment prophylactic effect and might affect cure rates. The clinical impact of these pharmacokinetic findings in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria needs to be evaluated in larger series.
Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) is increasingly used to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality in children and pregnant women. The efficacy of IPT depends on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the antimalarial drugs used. Healthy adult male volunteers whose occupation put them at high risk of malaria on the Northwest border of Thailand were randomized to receive a 3-day-treatment dose of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine monthly (DPm) or every 2 months (DPalt) or an identical placebo with or without fat (6.4g/dose) over a 9-month period. All volunteers were monitored weekly. One thousand adults were recruited. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was well tolerated. There were 114 episodes of malaria (49 Plasmodium falciparum, 63 P. vivax, and 2 P. ovale). The protective efficacy against all malaria at 36 weeks was 98% (95% confidence interval [CI], 96% to 99%) in the DPm group and 86% (95% CI, 81% to 90%) in the DPalt group (for both, P < 0.0001 compared to the placebo group). As a result, the placebo group also had lower hematocrits during the study (P < 0.0001). Trough plasma piperaquine concentrations were the main determinant of efficacy; no malaria occurred in participants with a trough concentration above 31 ng/ml. Neither plasma piperaquine concentration nor efficacy was influenced by the coadministration of fat. DPm is safe to use and is effective in the prevention of malaria in adult males living in an area where P. vivax and multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria are endemic.
Treatment of HIV/malaria-coinfected patients with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and artemisinin-based combination therapy has potential for drug interactions. We investigated the pharmacokinetics of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine after administration of a single dose of 80/480 mg of artemether/lumefantrine to HIV-infected adults, taken with and without lopinavir/ritonavir.
A two-arm parallel study of 13 HIV-infected ART-naive adults and 16 HIV-infected adults stable on 400/100 mg of lopinavir/ritonavir plus two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT 00619944). Each participant received a single dose of 80/480 mg of artemether/lumefantrine under continuous cardiac function monitoring. Plasma concentrations of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine were measured.
Co-administration of artemether/lumefantrine with lopinavir/ritonavir significantly reduced artemether maximum concentration (Cmax) and area under the concentration–time curve (AUC) [median (range): 112 (20–362) versus 56 (17–236) ng/mL, P = 0.03; and 264 (92–1129) versus 151 (38–606) ng · h/mL, P < 0.01]. Dihydroartemisinin Cmax and AUC were not affected [66 (10–111) versus 73 (31–224) ng/mL, P = 0.55; and 213 (68–343) versus 175 (118–262) ng · h/mL P = 0.27]. Lumefantrine Cmax and AUC increased during co-administration [2532 (1071–5957) versus 7097 (2396–9462) ng/mL, P < 0.01; and 41 119 (12 850–125 200) versus 199 678 (71 205–251 015) ng · h/mL, P < 0.01].
Co-administration of artemether/lumefantrine with lopinavir/ritonavir significantly increases lumefantrine exposure, but decreases artemether exposure. Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic trials will be highly valuable in evaluating the clinical significance of this interaction and determining whether dosage modifications are indicated.
antiretrovirals; antimalarials; drug interactions
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Some antimalarials have altered pharmacokinetics in pregnancy. Pregnant women in the 2nd or 3rd trimester and matched nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were treated with a total of 6.4 mg/kg of body weight dihydroartemisinin and 51.2 mg/kg piperaquine once daily for 3 days. Venous blood samples were drawn at prespecified time points over 9 weeks. Plasma dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine concentrations were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics were well described. There were no significant differences in total piperaquine exposure (P = 0.80) or drug exposure during the terminal elimination phase (72 h to infinity) (P = 0.64) between the two groups. The apparent volume of distribution of piperaquine was significantly smaller (602 liters/kg versus 877 liters/kg) in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women (P = 0.0057), and the terminal elimination half-life was significantly shorter (17.8 days versus 25.6 days; P = 0.0023). Dihydroartemisinin exposure after the first dose was significantly lower (844 h × ng/ml versus 1,220 h × ng/ml, P = 0.0021) in pregnant women, but there were no significant differences in total dihydroartemisinin exposure or maximum concentrations between the two groups. There were no significant differences in any pharmacokinetic parameters between the second and third trimester. These results obtained through noncompartmental analysis suggest that in the treatment of falciparum malaria, there are no clinically important differences in the pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin or piperaquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. However, a more detailed analysis using population pharmacokinetic modeling is needed to fully investigate the differences found for some of the pharmacokinetic parameters, such as the terminal half-life.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a new, highly effective, and well-tolerated combination treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria. The lipophilic characteristic of piperaquine suggests that administration together with fat will increase the oral bioavailability of the drug, and this has been reported for healthy volunteers. This pharmacokinetic study monitored 30 adult patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria for 4.5 months to evaluate the effects of the concomitant intake of fat on the total piperaquine exposure. The fixed-drug combination of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was given with water to fasting patients (n = 15) or was coadministered with 200 ml milk containing 6.4 g fat (n = 15). The drug combination was generally well tolerated, and there were no severe adverse effects reported for either group during the study. Total piperaquine exposure (area under the concentration-time curve from zero to infinity [AUC0-∞]; results are given as medians [ranges]) were not statistically different between fed (29.5 h · μg/ml [20.6 to 58.7 h · μg/ml]) and fasting (23.9 h · μg/ml [11.9 to 72.9 h · μg/ml]) patients, but the interindividual variation was reduced in the fed group. Overall, none of the pharmacokinetic parameters differed statistically between the groups. Total piperaquine exposure correlated well with the day 7 concentrations in the fasted group, but the fed group showed a poor correlation. In conclusion, the coadministration of 6.4 g fat did not have any significant effect on piperaquine pharmacokinetics in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria.
In order to study the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine during pregnancy, 24 pregnant women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and with Plasmodium vivax malaria were treated with amodiaquine (10 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 3 days. The same women were studied again at 3 months postpartum. Plasma was analyzed for amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine by use of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. Individual concentration-time data were evaluated using noncompartmental analysis. There were no clinically relevant differences in the pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine between pregnant (n = 24) and postpartum (n = 18) women. The results suggest that the current amodiaquine dosing regimen is adequate for the treatment of P. vivax infections during pregnancy.
Currently, population pharmacokinetic (PK) studies of anti-malarial drugs are designed primarily by the logistical and ethical constraints of taking blood samples from patients, and the statistical models that are fitted to the data are not formally considered. This could lead to imprecise estimates of the target PK parameters, and/or designs insufficient to estimate all of the parameters. Optimal design methodology has been developed to determine blood sampling schedules that will yield precise parameter estimates within the practical constraints of sampling the study populations. In this work optimal design methods were used to determine sampling designs for typical future population PK studies of dihydroartemisinin, the principal biologically active metabolite of oral artesunate.
Optimal designs were derived using freely available software and were based on appropriate structural PK models from an analysis of data or the literature and key sampling constraints identified in a questionnaire sent to active malaria researchers (3-4 samples per patient, at least 15 minutes between samples). The derived optimal designs were then evaluated via simulation-estimation.
The derived optimal sampling windows were 17 to 29 minutes, 30 to 57 minutes, 2.5 to 3.7 hours and 5.8 to 6.6 hours for non-pregnant adults; 16 to 29 minutes, 31 minutes to 1 hour, 2.0 to 3.4 hours and 5.5 to 6.6 hours for designs with non-pregnant adults and children and 35 to 59 minutes, 1.2 to 3.4 hours, 3.4 to 4.9 hours and 6.0 to 8.0 hours for pregnant women. The optimal designs resulted in acceptable precision of the PK parameters.
The proposed sampling designs in this paper are robust and efficient and should be considered in future PK studies of oral artesunate where only three or four blood samples can be collected.
Artemisinin derivatives are used in antimalarial drug combination therapy. Artemisinin and piperaquine have recently been proven to be prospective candidates for combination therapy in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
The goal of this study was to evaluate the relative bioavailability and to characterize the pharmacokinetic properties of a new micronized powder formulation of artemisinin against the previous standard Vietnamese formulation when administered as a single oral dose or in combination with piperaquine.
This was a single-center, randomized, 4-sequence, open-label, crossover study conducted in 15 healthy male Vietnamese volunteers under fasting conditions with a washout period of 3 weeks between study visits. A single oral dose of 160 or 500 mg of artemisinin was administered alone or in combination with piperaquine. Potential adverse events were monitored daily by the clinician and by using laboratory test results. Frequent blood samples were drawn for 12 hours after dose. Artemisinin was quantified in plasma using LC-MS/MS. Pharmacokinetic parameters were computed from the plasma concentration–time profiles using a noncompartmental analysis method.
Pharmacokinetic parameters Tmax, Cmax, AUC0-∞, Vd/F, CL/F, and t1/2 (mean [SD]) for the new formulation of artemisinin were 1.83 (0.88) hours, 178 (97) ng/mL, 504 (210) h × ng/mL, 1270 (780) L, 401 (260) L/h, and 2.21 (0.29) hours, respectively. The mean percentage of the test/reference formulation ratio for the logarithmically transformed values of Cmax, AUC0–last, and AUC0–∞ were 121% (90% CI, 92.5–158), 122% (90% CI, 101–148), and 120% (90% CI, 98.0–146), respectively.
This single-dose study found that the dose-normalized Cmax, AUC0–last, and AUC0–∞ mean geometric differences between the test and reference formulations were relatively small (<40%) and will probably not have a clinical impact in the treatment of malaria infections.
ACT; artemisinin; bioequivalence; malaria; pharmacokinetics; piperaquine
Artemether-lumefantrine is one of the most widely used anti-malarial drug combinations in the world with excellent tolerability and cure rates in adult and paediatric patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. The aim of this study was to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of artemether and its active metabolite, dihydroartemisinin, in healthy Pakistani volunteers.
Twelve healthy male Pakistani subjects, aged 20 to 50, were recruited into the study. A fixed oral combination of artemether-lumefantrine (80-480 mg) was given as a single oral dose. Frequent blood samples were collected and artemether and dihydroartemisinin were quantified in human plasma using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Drug concentration-time data were evaluated with non-compartmental analysis.
Observed maximum concentrations (mean ± SD) of artemether and dihydroartemisinin were 184 ± 100 ng/mL and 126 ± 46 ng/mL, respectively. These concentrations were reached at 1.56 ± 0.68 hr and 1.69 ± 0.59 hr, respectively, after drug intake. The terminal elimination half-life of artemether and dihydroartemisinin were 2.00 ± 0.71 hr and 1.80 ± 0.31 hr, respectively. Apparent volume of distribution and oral clearance for artemether were estimated to 666 ± 220 L and 257 ± 140 L/hr. The same parameters were estimated to 702 ± 220 L and 269 ± 57 L/hr for dihydroartemisinin.
The overall pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and dihydroartemisinin in healthy Pakistani subjects are comparable to healthy subjects and patients from other populations.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Field pharmacokinetic studies would be simplified and facilitated by being able to use small volume capillary assays rather than venous blood. The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between piperaquine concentrations measured in capillary blood, venous blood and venous plasma.
Samples of plasma, whole blood obtained by venesection and capillary blood were taken simultaneously from patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with DP between 0 and 9 weeks after treatment. Piperaquine concentrations in venous and capillary samples were measured using solid phase extraction and analysis by liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection.
A total of 161 sets of the three measures were obtained from 54 patients. Piperaquine concentrations in the venous blood samples were approximately twofold higher and those in the capillary blood samples were threefold higher than the corresponding venous plasma concentrations. Capillary blood piperaquine concentrations were approximately 1.7-fold higher than venous blood concentrations, and this difference also increased with time.
Differences in whole blood and plasma levels of piperaquine suggest compartmentalisation of the drug within blood cells, as also occurs with the structurally related quinoline chloroquine. The relationship between piperaquine concentrations in the venous plasma, venous blood and capillary blood is variable and unpredictable at low concentrations. However, within the range of concentrations usually present in patients between 3 and 21 days after treatment with currently recommended doses, the relationship between capillary and venous whole blood is predictable; consequently, capillary blood sampling can be used in field assessments.
Artemisinin combination therapy; Capillary blood; Malaria; Piperaquine
Artemether-lumefantrine has become one of the most widely used antimalarial drugs in the world. The objective of this study was to determine the population pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the northwestern border of Thailand. Burmese and Karen women (n = 103) with P. falciparum malaria and in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy were treated with artemether-lumefantrine (80/480 mg) twice daily for 3 days. All patients provided five capillary plasma samples for drug quantification, and the collection times were randomly distributed over 14 days. The concentration-time profiles of lumefantrine were assessed by nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The treatment failure rate (PCR-confirmed recrudescent infections at delivery) was high; 16.5% (95% confidence interval, 9.9 to 25.1). The population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine were described well by a two-compartment open model with first-order absorption and elimination. The final model included interindividual variability in all pharmacokinetic parameters and a linear covariate relationship between the estimated gestational age and the central volume of distribution. A high proportion of all women (40%, 41/103) had day 7 capillary plasma concentrations of <355 ng/ml (which corresponds to approximately <280 ng/ml in venous plasma), a threshold previously associated with an increased risk of therapeutic failure in nonpregnant patients in this area. Predictive modeling suggests that a twice-daily regimen given for 5 days would be preferable in later pregnancy. In conclusion, altered pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine contribute to the high rates of failure of artemether-lumefantrine treatment in later pregnancy. Dose optimization is urgently needed.
Characterization of anti-malarial drug concentration profiles is necessary to optimize dosing, and thereby optimize cure rates and reduce both toxicity and the emergence of resistance. Population pharmacokinetic studies determine the drug concentration time profiles in the target patient populations, including children who have limited sampling options. Currently, population pharmacokinetic studies of anti-malarial drugs are designed based on logistical, financial and ethical constraints, and prior knowledge of the drug concentration time profile. Although these factors are important, the proposed design may be unable to determine the desired pharmacokinetic profile because there was no formal consideration of the complex statistical models used to analyse the drug concentration data.
Optimal design methods incorporate prior knowledge of the pharmacokinetic profile of the drug, the statistical methods used to analyse data from population pharmacokinetic studies, and also the practical constraints of sampling the patient population. The methods determine the statistical efficiency of the design by evaluating the information of the candidate study design prior to the pharmacokinetic study being conducted.
In a hypothetical population pharmacokinetic study of intravenous artesunate, where the number of patients and blood samples to be assayed was constrained to be 50 and 200 respectively, an evaluation of varying elementary designs using optimal design methods found that the designs with more patients and less samples per patient improved the precision of the pharmacokinetic parameters and inter-patient variability, and the overall statistical efficiency by at least 50%.
Optimal design methods ensure that the proposed study designs for population pharmacokinetic studies are robust and efficient. It is unethical to continue conducting population pharmacokinetic studies when the sampling schedule may be insufficient to estimate precisely the pharmacokinetic profile.
By using a sensitive new assay, the terminal elimination half-life of the antimalarial piperaquine in a healthy volunteer was estimated to be 33 days, which is longer than estimated previously. This result illustrates the importance of extended sampling duration and sensitive assay methodologies in characterizing the disposition of slowly eliminated antimalarial drugs.