The objective of the current study was to develop a population pharmacokinetics (PK) model for erythropoietin (Epo) in premature infants and healthy adults to characterize the variation in PK, and to study the differences in Epo PK in these 2 populations. Thirteen very low-birth-weight premature infants (<1500 g at birth), and 10 healthy adults received up to 4 intravenous doses of Epo that ranged from 10 to 500 U/kg. The final model had a target-mediated saturable, nonlinear, elimination pathway that incorporated the mechanism of Epo binding to its receptors along with a parallel linear, central elimination pathway. Epo clearance was found to be significantly higher in preterm infants compared to adults. Epo clearance via the nonlinear pathway was found to be much higher in infants; they had an Epo receptor capacity of 133 pM vs 86.6 pM in adults, which is most likely due to the higher erythroid progenitor cell mass per kilogram of body weight in infants. The parallel linear elimination was found to be more dominant in adults, reaching 91% of the total clearance with a 500-U/kg dose compared to just 6.1% of the total clearance following the same dose in preterm infants. Thus, this mechanism-based population PK model revealed that receptor-based nonlinear elimination is the dominant Epo elimination pathway in premature infants, and parallel linear elimination is dominant in adults.
Keywords: erythropoietin; population pharmacokinetics; premature infants; target-mediated drug disposition.
© 2019, The American College of Clinical Pharmacology.