Effects of charge on antibody tissue distribution and pharmacokinetics

Bioconjug Chem. 2010 Dec 15;21(12):2153-63. doi: 10.1021/bc100261d. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Antibody pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics are often governed by biological processes such as binding to antigens and other cognate receptors. Emphasis must also be placed, however, on fundamental physicochemical properties that define antibodies as complex macromolecules, including shape, size, hydrophobicity, and charge. Electrostatic interactions between anionic cell membranes and the predominantly positive surface charge of most antibodies can influence blood concentration and tissue disposition kinetics in a manner that is independent of antigen recognition. In this context, the deliberate modification of antibodies by chemical means has been exploited as a valuable preclinical research tool to investigate the relationship between net molecular charge and biological disposition. Findings from these exploratory investigations may be summarized as follows: (I) shifts in isoelectric point of approximately one pI unit or more can produce measurable changes in tissue distribution and kinetics, (II) increases in net positive charge generally result in increased tissue retention and increased blood clearance, and (III) decreases in net positive charge generally result in decreased tissue retention and increased whole body clearance. Understanding electrostatic interactions between antibodies and biological matrices holds relevance in biotechnology, especially with regard to the development of immunoconjugates. The guiding principles and knowledge gained from preclinical evaluation of chemically modified antibodies will be discussed and placed in the context of therapeutic antibodies that are currently marketed or under development, with a particular emphasis on pharmacokinetic and disposition properties.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anions / metabolism
  • Antibodies / chemistry*
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Cations / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / immunology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Immunoconjugates / chemistry*
  • Immunoconjugates / immunology
  • Immunoconjugates / metabolism
  • Immunoconjugates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Isoelectric Point
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Engineering / methods
  • Rats
  • Static Electricity
  • Tissue Distribution / immunology


  • Anions
  • Antibodies
  • Antigens
  • Cations
  • Immunoconjugates