Applications of stable isotopes in clinical pharmacology

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;72(6):879-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.04071.x.


This review aims to present an overview of the application of stable isotope technology in clinical pharmacology. Three main categories of stable isotope technology can be distinguished in clinical pharmacology. Firstly, it is applied in the assessment of drug pharmacology to determine the pharmacokinetic profile or mode of action of a drug substance. Secondly, stable isotopes may be used for the assessment of drug products or drug delivery systems by determination of parameters such as the bioavailability or the release profile. Thirdly, patients may be assessed in relation to patient-specific drug treatment; this concept is often called personalized medicine. In this article, the application of stable isotope technology in the aforementioned three areas is reviewed, with emphasis on developments over the past 25 years. The applications are illustrated with examples from clinical studies in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Isotope Labeling / trends
  • Isotopes / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacology, Clinical / methods*
  • Pharmacology, Clinical / trends
  • Precision Medicine / methods*


  • Isotopes
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations