Purpose: Imatinib minimal (trough) plasma concentrations after one month of treatment have shown a significant association with clinical benefit in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Considering that a retrospective pharmacokinetic analysis has also suggested that imatinib clearance increases over time in patients with soft tissue sarcoma and GIST, the primary aim of this study was to assess systemic exposure to imatinib at multiple time points in a long-term prospective population pharmacokinetic study. As imatinib is mainly metabolized in the liver, our secondary aim was to elucidate the potential effects of the volume of liver metastases on exposure to imatinib.
Experimental design: Full pharmacokinetic blood sampling was conducted in 50 patients with GIST on the first day of imatinib treatment, and after one, six, and 12 months. In addition, on day 14, and monthly during imatinib treatment, trough samples were taken. Pharmacokinetic analysis was conducted using a compartmental model. Volume of liver metastases was assessed by computed tomographic (CT) imaging.
Results: After 90 days of treatment, a significant decrease in imatinib systemic exposure of 29.3% compared with baseline was observed (P < 0.01). For every 100 cm(3) increase of metastatic volume, a predicted decrease of 3.8% in imatinib clearance was observed.
Conclusions: This is the first prospective pharmacokinetic study in patients with GIST, showing a significant decrease of approximately 30% in imatinib exposure after long-term treatment. This means that future "trough level - clinical benefit" analyses should be time point specific. GIST liver involvement, however, has a marginal effect on imatinib clearance.