Dihydroartemisinin (DHA) is a component of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which is widely recommended for treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. DHA is also the main metabolite of artemether and artesunate, both of which are used in ACT. Due to auto-induction metabolism, declining plasma concentrations after the repeated dosing have been reported for artemisinin (Qing-hao-su) and artemether. This study was designed to evaluate the potential auto-induction metabolism of DHA in healthy Chinese adults after multiple oral doses of DHA. The polymorphic effects of UGT1A9 (I399C>T) and UGT2B7*2 (802C>T), the major enzymes involved in the metabolism of DHA, on the pharmacokinetic profiles of DHA and its metabolite was also studied.
Sixteen healthy Chinese subjects (four I399TT/802CC, four I399CC/802TT, four I399TT/802TT and four I399CT/802CT) received four recommended oral doses of Artekin, an ACT containing DHA (80 mg/dose) and piperaquine (PQ; 640 mg/dose), at 0, 6, 24 and 32 h. Plasma samples were analysed for DHA and its metabolite using a validated liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometric (LC-MS) method.
DHA and its glucuronidated metabolite DHA-Glu were detected in human plasma after oral administration of DHA-PQ. Compared with the first dose, the AUC0-t of the parent drug DHA decreased significantly (P<0.01) with increased oral clearance (CL/F) after each repeated dose of DHA-PQ, whereas its metabolite DHA-Glu did not change (P>0.05) in AUC0-t or Cmax. The phase II metabolic capability, calculated by the AUC0-t ratio of DHA-Glu to the parent drug DHA, increased 1.5-fold (90% CI, 1.3-1.7), 1.2-fold (90% CI, 1.1-1.3) and 1.7-fold (90% CI, 1.5-1.8) after the second, third and fourth dose, respectively. No polymorphic effect was found for UGT1A9 (I399C>T) and UGT2B7*2 (802C>T) on the pharmacokinetic profiles of DHA and its metabolite DHA-Glu.
The auto-induction phase II metabolism of DHA was present in healthy Chinese subjects after the recommended two-day oral doses of DHA-PQ (Artekin). The metabolic capability could recover after a 12-h dosing interval, which suggested that the alternative common three-day regimen (once daily) for DHA-PQ could probably lead to higher bioavailability of DHA. The polymorphism of UGT1A9 (I399C>T) and UGT2B7*2 (802C>T) may not be a concern during the treatment with DHA.
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