Scaling pharmacodynamics from in vitro and preclinical animal studies to humans

Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2009;24(1):16-24. doi: 10.2133/dmpk.24.16.


An important feature of mechanism-based pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) models is the identification of drug- and system-specific factors that determine the intensity and time-course of pharmacological effects. This provides an opportunity to integrate information obtained from in vitro bioassays and preclinical pharmacological studies in animals to anticipate the clinical and adverse responses to drugs in humans. The fact that contemporary PK/PD modeling continues to evolve and seeks to emulate systems level properties should provide enhanced capabilities to scale-up pharmacodynamic data. Critical steps in drug discovery and development, such as lead compound and first in human dose selection, may become more efficient with the implementation and further refinement of translational PK/PD modeling. In this review, we highlight fundamental principles in pharmacodynamics and the basic expectations for in vitro bioassays and traditional allometric scaling in PK/PD modeling. Discussion of PK/PD modeling efforts for recombinant human erythropoietin is also included as a case study showing the potential for advanced systems analysis to facilitate extrapolations and improve understanding of inter-species differences in drug responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Erythropoietin / administration & dosage
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacokinetics
  • Erythropoietin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacological Phenomena*
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin