Metabolism and disposition of vilanterol, a long-acting β(2)-adrenoceptor agonist for inhalation use in humans

Drug Metab Dispos. 2013 Jan;41(1):89-100. doi: 10.1124/dmd.112.048603. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


The metabolism and disposition of vilanterol, a novel long-acting β(2)-adrenoceptor agonist (LABA) for inhalation use, was investigated after oral administration in humans. Single oral administrations of up to 500 μg of vilanterol were shown to be safe and well tolerated in two clinical studies in healthy men. In a human radiolabel study, six healthy men received a single oral dose of 200 μg of [(14)C]vilanterol (74 kBq). Plasma, urine, and feces were collected up to 168 hours after the dose and were analyzed for vilanterol, metabolites, and radioactivity. At least 50% of the radioactive dose was orally absorbed. The primary route of excretion of drug-related material was via O-dealkylation to metabolites, which were mainly excreted in urine. Vilanterol represented a very small percentage (<0.5%) of the total drug-related material in plasma, indicative of extensive first-pass metabolism. Circulating metabolites resulted mainly from O-dealkylation and exhibited negligible pharmacologic activity. The therapeutic dose level for vilanterol is 25 μg by the inhalation route. At this low-dose level, the likelihood of pharmacologically inactive metabolites causing unexpected toxicity is negligible. In addition to providing an assessment of the disposition of vilanterol in human, this work highlights a number of complexities associated with determining human absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) for inhaled molecules--mainly related to the low chemical doses and complications associated with the inhalation route of administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Benzyl Alcohols / administration & dosage
  • Benzyl Alcohols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Chlorobenzenes / administration & dosage
  • Chlorobenzenes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Rats


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Benzyl Alcohols
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Chlorobenzenes
  • vilanterol