Population pharmacodynamic modeling and simulation of the respiratory effect of acetazolamide in decompensated COPD patients

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):e86313. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086313. eCollection 2014.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients may develop metabolic alkalosis during weaning from mechanical ventilation. Acetazolamide is one of the treatments used to reverse metabolic alkalosis.

Methods: 619 time-respiratory (minute ventilation, tidal volume and respiratory rate) and 207 time-PaCO2 observations were obtained from 68 invasively ventilated COPD patients. We modeled respiratory responses to acetazolamide in mechanically ventilated COPD patients and then simulated the effect of increased amounts of the drug.

Results: The effect of acetazolamide on minute ventilation and PaCO2 levels was analyzed using a nonlinear mixed effect model. The effect of different ventilatory modes was assessed on the model. Only slightly increased minute ventilation without decreased PaCO2 levels were observed in response to 250 to 500 mg of acetazolamide administered twice daily. Simulations indicated that higher acetazolamide dosage (>1000 mg daily) was required to significantly increase minute ventilation (P<.001 vs pre-acetazolamide administration). Based on our model, 1000 mg per day of acetazolamide would increase minute ventilation by >0.75 L min(-1) in 60% of the population. The model also predicts that 45% of patients would have a decrease of PaCO2>5 mmHg with doses of 1000 mg per day.

Conclusions: Simulations suggest that COPD patients might benefit from the respiratory stimulant effect after the administration of higher doses of acetazolamide.

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / administration & dosage
  • Acetazolamide / pharmacology*
  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Respiration / drug effects*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Tidal Volume / drug effects


  • Acetazolamide

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.