Pharmacokinetics of drugs in cachectic patients: a systematic review

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 8;8(11):e79603. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079603. eCollection 2013.


Cachexia is a weight-loss process caused by an underlying chronic disease such as cancer, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. It leads to changes in body structure and function that may influence the pharmacokinetics of drugs. Changes in gut function and decreased subcutaneous tissue may influence the absorption of orally and transdermally applied drugs. Altered body composition and plasma protein concentration may affect drug distribution. Changes in the expression and function of metabolic enzymes could influence the metabolism of drugs, and their renal excretion could be affected by possible reduction in kidney function. Because no general guidelines exist for drug dose adjustments in cachectic patients, we conducted a systematic search to identify articles that investigated the pharmacokinetics of drugs in cachectic patients.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Cachexia / metabolism*
  • Drug Dosage Calculations
  • Humans
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Tissue Distribution

Grant support

The authors have no funding or support to report.