Once daily aminoglycoside therapy. Is it less toxic than multiple daily doses and how should it be monitored?

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1999 Feb;36(2):89-98. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199936020-00001.


After 50 years of clinical experience with the aminoglycoside agents, there is continuing debate over the most appropriate administration regimen for these drugs. In recent years, once daily administration has been used increasingly, in the hope of both improving efficacy and reducing toxicity. At least 30 controlled clinical trials have compared once versus conventional multiple daily administration. Efficacy was assessed in some, but not all, studies using clinical and/or bacteriological cure. Toxicity was generally determined using rather nonsensitive end-points such as measurement of serum creatinine for nephrotoxicity and clinically detectable hearing loss for ototoxicity. The results of individual clinical trials and subsequent meta-analyses have been variable. However, 5 of 9 meta-analyses found clinical efficacy to be significantly better with once daily administration, and in 3 of the 9 there were significantly less nephrotoxicity with once daily administration. The results were not significant for ototoxicity in any of the meta-analyses. There is debate about how therapeutic drug monitoring should be performed, and whether it is still required with once daily administration. Previous experience with the aminoglycosides, especially in patients with impaired drug clearance caused by renal impairment, suggests that monitoring is still prudent. Results from the once daily administration trials appear to support this. Various methods of monitoring and dose adjustment have been proposed. The most common is to measure a 24-hour trough concentration and to adjust the dose to maintain the trough concentration below a value of 2, 1 or 0.5 mg/L. However, this method allows for greater total aminoglycoside exposure than has been permitted with conventional dosages, increasing the likelihood of toxicity in patients with impaired aminoglycoside clearance. Other methods measure drug concentrations at a time-point or points within the dose interval (when the concentration is still measurable), and adjust the dose according to concentration-time curve nomograms or to a target area under the concentration-time curve. This allows the use of higher doses in those with high drug clearance. Furthermore, in patients with impaired clearance, drug exposure is limited to the same extent as, or less than, that with conventional multiple daily administration. To date no controlled trials have compared methods of dose-individualisation. In summary, in addition to a slight overall improvement in efficacy, once daily administration has resulted in a small reduction in nephrotoxicity. In the studies using more sensitive measures of toxicity, the differences in toxicity were greater, strengthening the case for once daily administration. Therapeutic drug monitoring is probably required with once daily administration. Methods which use mid-dosage interval concentrations to gauge drug exposure would seem to be preferable over trough concentration measurement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Monitoring / methods*
  • Hearing Loss / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents