A Bottom-Up Whole-Body Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Model to Mechanistically Predict Tissue Distribution and the Rate of Subcutaneous Absorption of Therapeutic Proteins

AAPS J. 2016 Jan;18(1):156-70. doi: 10.1208/s12248-015-9819-4. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


The ability to predict subcutaneous (SC) absorption rate and tissue distribution of therapeutic proteins (TPs) using a bottom-up approach is highly desirable early in the drug development process prior to clinical data being available. A whole-body physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model, requiring only a few drug parameters, to predict plasma and interstitial fluid concentrations of TPs in humans after intravenous and subcutaneous dosing has been developed. Movement of TPs between vascular and interstitial spaces was described by considering both convection and diffusion processes using a 2-pore framework. The model was optimised using a variety of literature sources, such as tissue lymph/plasma concentration ratios in humans and animals, information on the percentage of dose absorbed following SC dosing via lymph in animals and data showing loss of radiolabelled IgG from the SC dosing site in humans. The resultant model was used to predict t max and plasma concentration profiles for 12 TPs (molecular weight 8-150 kDa) following SC dosing. The predicted plasma concentration profiles were generally comparable to observed data. t max was predicted within 3-fold of reported values, with one third of the predictions within 0.8-1.25-fold. There was no systematic bias in simulated C max values, although a general trend for underprediction of t max was observed. No clear trend between prediction accuracy of t max and TP isoelectric point or molecular size was apparent. The mechanistic whole-body PBPK model described here can be applied to predict absorption rate of TPs into blood and movement into target tissues following SC dosing.

Keywords: PBPK; pharmacokinetics; simulation; subcutaneous absorption; therapeutic protein.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Algorithms
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Isoelectric Focusing
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Weight
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Proteins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Subcutaneous Absorption
  • Tissue Distribution*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Proteins