Structure-pharmacokinetic relationships among the N1,N3-alkylxanthines in rats

J Pharm Pharmacol. 1991 Apr;43(4):262-9. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1991.tb06680.x.


The pharmacokinetics of four N3-alkylxanthine and four N1-methyl-N3-alkylxanthine derivatives has been investigated in rats after intravenous administration of the individual alkylxanthines. The concentration of N1,N3-alkylxanthine in plasma and urine was determined by HPLC. A one-compartment model adequately described the plasma concentration time data. The steady-state volume of distribution (Vss) was calculated using model-independent methods. The relation between Vss and unbound drug fraction in plasma (fu) was significantly correlated (Vss = 0.844fu + 0.119; r = 0.999, P less than 0.01), indicating that the differences in fu among these xanthine derivatives is mainly responsible for differences in Vss. The decrease in Vss and increase in plasma protein binding with lipophilicity reflected a relatively constant tissue affinity. The total body clearance increased with lipophilicity with the exception of the first three lower congeners which were almost completely excreted unchanged in urine, mainly via active tubular secretion. Renal elimination was markedly reduced by the presence of a methyl group at the N1-position. Renal clearance decreased with increasing lipophilicity, due to increased tubular reabsorption whereas non-renal (hepatic) clearance increased with increasing lipophilicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Xanthines / chemistry
  • Xanthines / pharmacokinetics*


  • Blood Proteins
  • Xanthines