Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Predictions of Tramadol Exposure Throughout Pediatric Life: an Analysis of the Different Clearance Contributors with Emphasis on CYP2D6 Maturation

AAPS J. 2015 Nov;17(6):1376-87. doi: 10.1208/s12248-015-9803-z. Epub 2015 Jul 25.


This paper focuses on the retrospective evaluation of physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) techniques used to mechanistically predict clearance throughout pediatric life. An intravenous tramadol retrograde PBPK model was set up in Simcyp® using adult clearance values, qualified for CYP2D6, CYP3A4, CYP2B6, and renal contributions. Subsequently, the model was evaluated for mechanistic prediction of total, CYP2D6-related, and renal clearance predictions in very early life. In two in vitro pediatric human liver microsomal (HLM) batches (1 and 3 months), O-desmethyltramadol and N-desmethyltramadol formation rates were compared with CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 activity, respectively. O-desmethyltramadol formation was mediated only by CYP2D6, while N-desmethyltramadol was mediated in part by CYP3A4. Additionally, the clearance maturation of the PBPK model predictions was compared to two in vivo maturation models (Hill and exponential) based on plasma concentration data, and to clearance estimations from a WinNonlin® fit of plasma concentration and urinary excretion data. Maturation of renal and CYP2D6 clearance is captured well in the PBPK model predictions, but total tramadol clearance is underpredicted. The most pronounced underprediction of total and CYP2D6-mediated clearance was observed in the age range of 2-13 years. In conclusion, the PBPK technique showed to be a powerful mechanistic tool capable of predicting maturation of CYP2D6 and renal tramadol clearance in early infancy, although some underprediction occurs between 2 and 13 years for total and CYP2D6-mediated tramadol clearance.

Keywords: PBPK; clearance; ontogeny; pediatric; tramadol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / metabolism*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / drug effects
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / physiology
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tramadol / pharmacokinetics*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Tramadol
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6