Population pharmacokinetics of metformin in late pregnancy

Ther Drug Monit. 2006 Feb;28(1):67-72. doi: 10.1097/01.ftd.0000184161.52573.0e.


The pharmacokinetic disposition of metformin in late pregnancy was studied together with the level of fetal exposure at birth. Blood samples were obtained in the third trimester of pregnancy from women with gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes; 5 had a previous diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome. A cord blood sample also was obtained at the delivery of some of these women, and also at delivery of others who had been taking metformin during pregnancy but from whom no blood had been taken. Plasma metformin concentrations were assayed by a new, validated, reverse-phase HPLC method. A 2-compartment, extravascular maternal model with transplacental partitioning of drug to a fetal compartment was fitted to the data. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was performed in NONMEM using FOCE with INTERACTION. Variability was estimated using logarithmic interindividual and additive residual variance models; the covariance between clearance and volume was modeled simultaneously. Mean (range) metformin concentrations in cord plasma and in maternal plasma were 0.81 (range, 0.1-2.6) mg/L and 1.2 (range, 0.1-2.9) mg/L, respectively. Typical population values (interindividual variability, CV%) for allometrically scaled maternal clearance and volume of distribution were 28 L/h/70 kg (17.1%) and 190 L/70 kg (46.3%), giving a derived population-wide half-life of 5.1 hours. The placental partition coefficient for metformin was 1.07 (36.3%). Neither maternal age nor weight significantly influenced the pharmacokinetics. The variability (SD) of observed concentrations about model-predicted concentrations was 0.32 mg/L. The pharmacokinetics were similar to those in nonpregnant patients and, therefore, no dosage adjustment is warranted. Metformin readily crosses the placenta, exposing the fetus to concentrations approaching those in the maternal circulation. The sequelae to such exposure, eg, effects on neonatal obesity and insulin resistance, remain unknown.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes, Gestational / drug therapy
  • Drug Monitoring / methods*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / blood
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Metformin / blood
  • Metformin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Metformin / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin