Population pharmacokinetics of palivizumab, a humanized anti-respiratory syncytial virus monoclonal antibody, in adults and children

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2012 Sep;56(9):4927-36. doi: 10.1128/AAC.06446-11. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Although it has been on the market for over a decade, confusion remains regarding the pharmacokinetics (PK) and optimal dosing of palivizumab, a humanized IgG1κ monoclonal antibody indicated for the prevention of serious lower respiratory tract disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in pediatric patients at high risk of RSV disease. The objectives of this analysis were to characterize the population PK of palivizumab in adults and children using nonlinear mixed-effect modeling, quantify the effects of individual covariates on variability in palivizumab disposition, and compare palivizumab exposures for various dosing scenarios. Palivizumab PK data from 22 clinical studies were used for model development. The model was developed using a two-stage approach: (i) a 2-compartment model with first-order absorption after intramuscular administration was fitted to adult data, and (ii) the same structural model was fitted to the sparse pediatric data using the NONMEM $PRIOR subroutine, with informative priors obtained from the adult analysis. Body weight and an age descriptor that combines gestational age and postnatal age (PAGE) using an asymptotic-exponential model best described palivizumab clearance in pediatric patients. Palivizumab clearance increased slightly from 10.2 ml/day to 11.9 ml/day as a function of PAGE ranging from 7 to 18 months. Covariate analysis indicated a 20% higher clearance in children with chronic lung disease and in children with antidrug antibody titer values of ≥80. These covariates did not substantially explain interindividual variability. In the label-indicated pediatric population, body weight was the primary demographic factor affecting palivizumab PK. Body weight-based dosing of 15 mg/kg yields similar palivizumab concentrations in children of different gestational and postnatal ages. Simulations demonstrated that there was little difference in palivizumab PK between healthy term and premature infants. Simulations also demonstrated that the 5 monthly palivizumab doses of 15 mg/kg, consistent with the label and studied in two randomized, clinical trials, provided greater and more prolonged palivizumab exposure than did an abbreviated dosing regimen of 3 monthly doses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antiviral Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents* / pharmacokinetics
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / virology
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Palivizumab
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / drug effects
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / growth & development


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Palivizumab