Unaltered etanercept pharmacokinetics with concurrent methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

J Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Nov;44(11):1235-43. doi: 10.1177/0091270004268049.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential impact of concurrent weekly oral methotrexate administration on the pharmacokinetics of etanercept in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a phase 3B trial. As part of a double-blind randomized trial of 682 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who received etanercept (25 mg subcutaneously twice weekly), methotrexate (weekly oral dose, median weekly dose: 20 mg), or etanercept (25 mg subcutaneously twice weekly) plus methotrexate (weekly oral dose, median weekly dose: 20 mg), serum etanercept concentrations were measured in a subset of patients. Serum samples for 98 randomly selected patients (48 receiving etanercept-alone treatment, 50 receiving etanercept plus methotrexate combination treatment) were analyzed to assess the pharmacokinetics of etanercept. A single blood sample was drawn from each patient at baseline and at the week 24 visit. Given the variable sampling time for patients in both groups, a population pharmacokinetic analysis using NONMEM was conducted for etanercept. A final covariate population pharmacokinetic model was constructed based on previously obtained etanercept data from both healthy subjects (n = 53) and patients with RA (n = 212) in 10 prior clinical trials. The predictive performance of the final model was assessed by both bootstrap and data-splitting validation approaches. The final model was then used to estimate Bayesian pharmacokinetic parameters for the patients in both treatments in the current trial. The potential effect of the concurrent administration of methotrexate on the pharmacokinetics of etanercept was examined by comparing the clearance values between 2 treatments using statistical criteria. A population 2-compartment model with first-order elimination from the central compartment and with either zero-order (intravenous administration) or first-order (subcutaneous administration) input was selected based on the data from the prior 10 etanercept clinical studies. The following pharmacokinetic parameters (typical value +/- standard error) were estimated: clearance (CL: 0.072 +/- 0.005 L/h), volume of distribution in the central compartment (V(c): 5.97 +/- 0.45 L), volume of distribution in the peripheral compartment (V(p): 2.05 +/- 0.32 L), intercompartment clearance (Q: 0.0645 +/- 0.0093 L/h), first-order absorption rate constant (k(a): 0.0282 +/- 0.0039 1/h), and absolute bioavailability for subcutaneous administration (F: 0.626 +/- 0.056). Interindividual variability of the pharmacokinetic parameters was quantified for CL (25.1%), V(c) (41.7%), k(a) (53.1%), and F (24.2%). Residual variability consisted of combined additive (11.4 ng/mL) and proportional error (49.9%). Both age (< 17 years) and body weight (< 60 kg) were found to be important covariates on CL. The results of both validation tests indicated the adequate predictive performance of the population model. Based on the bioequivalence criteria, the Bayesian-estimated clearance for patients receiving etanercept alone (mean: 0.070 L/h) was comparable to that for patients receiving a combination of etanercept and methotrexate (mean = 0.066 L/h). The pharmacokinetics of etanercept were not altered by the concurrent administration of methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, no etanercept dose adjustment is needed for patients taking concurrent methotrexate.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biological Availability
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Methotrexate / pharmacology*
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Etanercept
  • Methotrexate