Prediction of brain clozapine and norclozapine concentrations in humans from a scaled pharmacokinetic model for rat brain and plasma pharmacokinetics

J Transl Med. 2014 Aug 20;12:203. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-12-203.


Background: Clozapine is highly effective in treatment-resistant schizophrenia, although, there remains significant variability in the response to this drug. To better understand this variability, the objective of this study was to predict brain extracellular fluid (ECF) concentrations and receptor occupancy of clozapine and norclozapine in human central nervous system by translating plasma and brain ECF pharmacokinetic (PK) relationships in the rat and coupling these with known human disposition of clozapine in the plasma.

Methods: Unbound concentrations of clozapine and norclozapine were measured in rat brain ECF using quantitative microdialysis after subcutaneous administration of a 10 mg/kg single dose of clozapine or norclozapine. These data were linked with plasma concentrations obtained in the same rats to develop a plasma-brain ECF compartmental model. Parameters describing brain ECF disposition were then allometrically scaled and linked with published human plasma PK to predict human ECF concentrations. Subsequently, prediction of human receptor occupancy at several CNS receptors was based on an effect model that related the predicted ECF concentrations to published concentration-driven receptor occupancy parameters.

Results: A one compartment model with first order absorption and elimination best described clozapine and norclozapine plasma concentrations in rats. A delay in the transfer of clozapine and norclozapine from plasma to the brain ECF compartment was captured using a transit compartment model approach. Human clozapine and norclozapine concentrations in brain ECF were simulated, and from these the median percentage of receptor occupancy of dopamine-2, serotonin-2A, muscarinic-1, alpha-1 adrenergic, alpha-2 adrenergic and histamine-1 for clozapine, and dopamine-2 for norclozapine were consistent with values reported in the literature.

Conclusions: A PK model that relates clozapine and norclozapine disposition in rat plasma and brain, including blood-brain barrier transport, was developed. Using allometry and published human plasma PK, the model was successfully translated to predict clozapine and norclozapine concentrations and accordant receptor occupancy of both agents in human brain. These predicted exposure and occupancy measures at several receptors that bind clozapine may be employed to extend our understanding of clozapine's complex behavioral effects in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Clozapine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Clozapine / analysis*
  • Clozapine / blood
  • Clozapine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Translational Medical Research


  • norclozapine
  • Clozapine