A population pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic model of methotrexate and mucositis scores in osteosarcoma

Ther Drug Monit. 2011 Dec;33(6):711-8. doi: 10.1097/FTD.0b013e31823615e1.


Methotrexate, when used in high doses (12 g/m²) in the treatment of osteosarcoma, shows wide between-subject variability (BSV) in its pharmacokinetics. High-dose methotrexate is associated with severe toxicity; therefore, therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) is carried out to guide rescue therapy and monitor for nephrotoxicity. Mucositis is a commonly encountered dose-limiting toxicity that often leads to delays in subsequent courses of chemotherapy. This, in turn, results in a reduction in the dosing intensity, which is essential in the treatment of osteosarcoma. The aims of this study were to develop a population pharmacokinetic (PK) model from TDM using physiologically relevant covariates and to investigate the correlation between mucositis scores and methotrexate pharmacokinetics. In total, 46 osteosarcoma patients (30 men and 16 women; age, 4-51 years) were recruited, and blood samples were collected for routine TDM once every 24 hours. Mucositis scores, graded according to the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria, were recorded for 28 of the patients (18 men and 10 women; age, 8-51 years) predose and postdose. A population PK model was developed in NONMEM VI. A 2-compartment PK model was chosen, and clearance (CL) was divided into filtration and secretion/metabolism components. All parameters were scaled with body weight, and, in addition, total CL was scaled with age- and sex-adjusted serum creatinine. Between-subject variability was modeled for all parameters, and between-occasion variability was included in CL. For a typical 70 kg man of 18 years or older, the parameter estimates for the final model were CL(filt) = 2.69 L/h/70 kg, CL(sec) = 10.9 L/h/70 kg, V₁ = 74.3 L/70 kg, Q = 0.110 L/h/70 kg, and V₂ = 4.10 L/70 kg. Sequential pharmacodynamic modeling consisted of mucositis scores as 5-point ordered categorical data. A significant linear relationship between individual area under the curve (AUC) and mucositis score probability was found, and the probability of having mucositis score ≥ 1 increased with increasing AUC and was almost 50% at the average cumulative AUC after 2 consecutive methotrexate doses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / blood
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Bone Neoplasms / blood
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / immunology
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects*
  • Methotrexate / blood
  • Methotrexate / pharmacokinetics*
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mucositis / chemically induced
  • Mucositis / physiopathology*
  • Osteosarcoma / blood
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Osteosarcoma / immunology
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Methotrexate