Stochastic process pharmacodynamics: dose timing in neonatal gentamicin therapy as an example

AAPS J. 2015 Mar;17(2):447-56. doi: 10.1208/s12248-014-9715-3. Epub 2015 Feb 7.


We consider dosing regimens designed to cure patients by eradicating colony forming units (CFU) such as bacteria. In the field of "population" pharmaco-kinetics/dynamics (PK/PD), inter-individual variability (IIV) of patients is estimated using model parameter statistical distributions. We consider a more probabilistic approach to IIV called stochastic process theory, motivated by the fact that tumor treatment planning uses both approaches. Stochastic process PD can supply additional insights and suggest different dosing regimens due to its emphasis on the probability of complete CFU eradication and its predictions on "pure chance" fluctuations of CFU number per patient when treatment has reduced this integer to less than ~100. To exemplify the contrast between stochastic process PD models and standard deterministic PD models, which track only average CFU number, we analyze, neglecting immune responses, neonatal intravenous gentamicin dosing regimens directed against Escherichia coli. Our stochastic calculations predict that the first dose is crucial for CFU eradication. For example, a single 6 mg/kg dose is predicted to have a higher eradication probability than four daily 4 mg/kg doses. We conclude: (1) neonatal gentamicin dosing regimens with larger first doses but smaller total doses deserve investigation; (2) in general, if standard PK/PD models predict average CFU number drops substantially below 100, the models should be modified to incorporate stochastic effects more accurately, and will then usually make more favorable, or less unfavorable, predictions for front boosting ("hit hard early"). Various caveats against over-interpreting the calculations are given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli Infections / drug therapy*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage*
  • Gentamicins / pharmacokinetics
  • Gentamicins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Biological*
  • Probability
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins