Pharmacokinetics of biotech drugs: peptides, proteins and monoclonal antibodies

Curr Drug Metab. 2009 Sep;10(7):661-91. doi: 10.2174/138920009789895499.


With the advances in recombinant DNA biotechnology, molecular biology and immunology, the number of biotech drugs, including peptides, proteins and monoclonal antibodies, available for clinical use has dramatically increased in recent years. Although pharmacokinetic principles are equally applicable to the large molecule drugs and conventional small molecule drugs, the underlying mechanisms for the processes of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of large molecule drugs are often very different from that of small molecule drugs. Therefore, a good understanding of the ADME processes of large molecule drugs is essential in support of the development of therapeutic biologics. The purpose of this article is to review the current knowledge of the ADME processes that govern the pharmacokinetics of biotech drugs. The challenges encountered by orally administered peptide and protein drugs, and the nature of lymphatic absorption after subcutaneous administration will be discussed. In addition, molecular mechanisms of biodistribution, metabolism and renal excretion of biotech drugs will also be discussed. Finally, approaches used for prediction of human pharmacokinetics of protein drugs will be briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Peptides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Proteins / pharmacokinetics*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Peptides
  • Proteins