Mechanism-based concepts of size and maturity in pharmacokinetics

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2008;48:303-32. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.48.113006.094708.


Growth and development can be investigated using readily observable demographic factors such as weight and age. Size is the primary covariate and can be referenced to a 70-kg person with allometry using a coefficient of 0.75 for clearance and 1 for volume. The use of these coefficients is supported by fractal geometric concepts and observations from diverse areas in biology. Fat free mass (FFM) might be expected to do better than total body weight when there are wide variations in fat affecting body composition. Clearance pathways develop in the fetus before birth. The use of postnatal age as a descriptor of maturation is unsatisfactory because birth may occur prematurely; therefore postmenstrual age is a superior predictor of elimination function. A sigmoid E(max) model (Hill equation) describes gradual maturation of clearance in early life leading to a mature adult clearance achieved at a later age.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Size / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmacokinetics*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations