In preclinical and clinical experiments, pharmacokinetic (PK) studies are designed to analyse the evolution of drug concentration in plasma over time i.e. the PK profile. Some PK parameters are estimated in order to summarize the complete drug's kinetic profile: area under the curve (AUC), maximal concentration (C(max)), time at which the maximal concentration occurs (t(max)) and half-life time (t(1/2)).Several methods have been proposed to estimate these PK parameters. A first method relies on interpolating between observed concentrations. The interpolation method is often chosen linear. This method is simple and fast. Another method relies on compartmental modelling. In this case, nonlinear methods are used to estimate parameters of a chosen compartmental model. This method provides generally good results. However, if the data are sparse and noisy, two difficulties can arise with this method. The first one is related to the choice of the suitable compartmental model given the small number of data available in preclinical experiment for instance. Second, nonlinear methods can fail to converge. Much work has been done recently to circumvent these problems (J. Pharmacokinet. Pharmacodyn. 2007; 34:229-249, Stat. Comput., to appear, Biometrical J., to appear, ESAIM P&S 2004; 8:115-131).In this paper, we propose a Bayesian nonparametric model based on P-splines. This method provides good PK parameters estimation, whatever be the number of available observations and the level of noise in the data. Simulations show that the proposed method provides better PK parameters estimations than the interpolation method, both in terms of bias and precision. The Bayesian nonparametric method provides also better AUC and t(1/2) estimations than a correctly specified compartmental model, whereas this last method performs better in t(max) and C(max) estimations.We extend the basic model to a hierarchical one that treats the case where we have concentrations from different subjects. We are then able to get individual PK parameter estimations. Finally, with Bayesian methods, we can get easily some uncertainty measures by obtaining credibility sets for each PK parameter.
Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.