Target and Tissue Selectivity Prediction by Integrated Mechanistic Pharmacokinetic-Target Binding and Quantitative Structure Activity Modeling

AAPS J. 2017 Dec 4;20(1):11. doi: 10.1208/s12248-017-0172-7.


Selectivity is an important attribute of effective and safe drugs, and prediction of in vivo target and tissue selectivity would likely improve drug development success rates. However, a lack of understanding of the underlying (pharmacological) mechanisms and availability of directly applicable predictive methods complicates the prediction of selectivity. We explore the value of combining physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling with quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) modeling to predict the influence of the target dissociation constant (K D) and the target dissociation rate constant on target and tissue selectivity. The K D values of CB1 ligands in the ChEMBL database are predicted by QSAR random forest (RF) modeling for the CB1 receptor and known off-targets (TRPV1, mGlu5, 5-HT1a). Of these CB1 ligands, rimonabant, CP-55940, and Δ8-tetrahydrocanabinol, one of the active ingredients of cannabis, were selected for simulations of target occupancy for CB1, TRPV1, mGlu5, and 5-HT1a in three brain regions, to illustrate the principles of the combined PBPK-QSAR modeling. Our combined PBPK and target binding modeling demonstrated that the optimal values of the K D and k off for target and tissue selectivity were dependent on target concentration and tissue distribution kinetics. Interestingly, if the target concentration is high and the perfusion of the target site is low, the optimal K D value is often not the lowest K D value, suggesting that optimization towards high drug-target affinity can decrease the benefit-risk ratio. The presented integrative structure-pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling provides an improved understanding of tissue and target selectivity.

Keywords: kinetic selectivity; physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling; quantitative structure-activity relationship; target-mediated drug disposition; tissue selectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1