Clinical pharmacology of asparaginases in the United States: asparaginase population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) models (NONMEM) in adult and pediatric ALL patients

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2007 Apr;29(4):239-47. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e318047b79d.


In the past 25 years, effective new drugs along with better treatment decisions based on disease factors have resulted in significantly improved clinical outcomes in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Despite these successes in the last 2 decades, 15% to 25% of acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients relapse. Therefore, better dosing therapies are still needed. Insights in the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) contributions of licensed drugs may guide us into better protocol design and optimal use of existing combination drug regimens. Currently, 3 asparaginase formulations are available in the United States, Escherichia coli native asparaginase (ASNase), Pegaspargase, and Erwinase. On the basis of these clinical studies, PK and PD population modeling (NONMEM) have been used to delve into new insights as to the optimal dose, formulation, and time intervals of ASNases that may be used in future clinical trials. Pegaspargase 2500 IU/m2 Q2week dosing seems to be the "golden standard" as far as being safe and effective. Lower doses of this formulation Qweek may achieve better PK "steady-state" profiles in serum. Native E. coli or Erwinia ASNase at 6000 IU/m2 showed inferior PK parameters (peak, trough, and area under the curve) than Pegaspargase. Assuming linear handling of ASNase modeling, simulations of higher doses of these ASNase formulations on a daily or Q48 hours regimen are showing bioequivalency with Pegaspargase PK-PD parameters. Future clinical trial designs may prove these efforts useful.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Asparaginase / administration & dosage
  • Asparaginase / pharmacokinetics*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Asparaginase