According to the free drug hypothesis only the unbound drug is available to act at physiological sites of action, and as such the importance of plasma protein binding primarily resides in its impact on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Of the major plasma proteins, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AAG) represents an intriguing one primarily due to the high affinity, low capacity properties of this protein. In addition, there are marked species and age differences in protein expression, homology and drug binding affinity. As such, a thorough understanding of drug binding to AAG can help aid and improve the translation of pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) relationships from preclinical species to human as well as adults to neonates. This review provides a comprehensive overview of our current understanding of the biochemistry of AAG; endogenous function, impact of disease, utility as a biomarker, and impact on PK/PD. Experimental considerations are discussed as well as recommendations for understanding the potential impact of AAG on PK through drug discovery and early development.
Keywords: alpha-1-acid glycoprotein; fraction unbound; pharmacodynamics; pharmacokinetics; protein binding.