Population pharmacokinetics of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2010 Oct;49(10):633-59. doi: 10.2165/11535960-000000000-00000.


A growing number of population pharmacokinetic analyses of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been published in the scientific literature. The aims of this article are to summarize the findings from these studies and to relate the findings to the general pharmacokinetic and structural characteristics of therapeutic mAbs. A two-compartment model was used in the majority of the population analyses to describe the disposition of the mAb. Population estimates of the volumes of distribution in the central (V(1)) and peripheral (V(2)) compartments were typically small, with median (range) values of 3.1 (2.4-5.5) L and 2.8 (1.3-6.8) L, respectively. The estimated between-subject variability in the V(1) was usually moderate, with a median (range) coefficient of variation (CV) of 26% (12-84%). Between-subject variability in other distribution-related parameters such as the V(2) and intercompartmental clearance were often not estimated. Although the pharmacokinetic models used most frequently in the population analyses were models with linear clearance, other models with nonlinear, or parallel linear and nonlinear clearance pathways were also applied, as many therapeutic mAbs are eliminated via saturable target-mediated mechanisms. Population estimates of the maximum elimination rate (V(max)) and the mAb concentration at which elimination was at half maximum for Michaelis-Menten-type elimination pathways varied considerably among the different therapeutic mAbs. However, estimates of the total clearance (CL) of mAbs with linear clearance characteristics and of the clearance of mAbs via the linear clearance pathway (CL(L)) with parallel linear and nonlinear clearance were quite similar for the different mAbs and typically ranged from 0.2 to 0.5 L/day, which is relatively close to the estimated clearance of endogenous IgG of 0.21 L/day. The between-subject variability in the V(max), CL and CL(L) was moderate to high, with estimated CVs ranging from 15% to 65%. Measures of body size were the covariates most commonly identified as influencing the pharmacokinetics of therapeutic mAbs. In summary, many features of the population pharmacokinetics of currently used therapeutic mAbs are similar, despite differences in their pharmacological targets and studied patient populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal