Exposure-Efficacy Analysis of Antibody-Drug Conjugates Delivering an Excessive Level of Payload to Tissues

Drug Metab Dispos. 2019 Oct;47(10):1146-1155. doi: 10.1124/dmd.119.087023. Epub 2019 Jul 29.


Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) contain a disease-receptor antibody and a payload drug connected via a linker. The payload delivery depends on both tumor properties and ADC characteristics. In this study, we used different linkers, attachment sites, and doses to modulate payload delivery of several ADCs bearing maytansinoids (e.g., DM1), auristatins (e.g., MMAE), and DNA alkylating agents [e.g., pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine-dimer (PBD)] as payloads in HER2- or CD22-expressing xenograft models. The tumor growth inhibition and ADC stability and exposure data were collected and analyzed from these dosed animals. The trend analysis suggests that intratumoral payload exposures that directly related the combination of conjugate linker and dose correlate with the corresponding efficacies of three payload types in two antigen-expressing xenograft models. These preliminary correlations also suggest that a minimal threshold concentration of intratumoral payload is required to support sustained efficacy. In addition, an ADC can deliver an excessive level of payload to tumors that does not enhance efficacy ("Plateau" effect). In contrast to tumor payload concentrations, the assessments of systemic exposures of total antibody (Tab) as well as the linker, dose, site of attachment, plasma stability, and drug-to-antibody ratio changes of these ADCs did not consistently rationalize the observed ADC efficacies. The requirement of a threshold payload concentration for efficacy is further supported by dose fractionation studies with DM1-, MMAE-, and PBD-containing ADCs, which demonstrated that single-dose regimens showed better efficacies than fractionated dosing. Overall, this study demonstrates that 1) the linker and dose together determine the tissue payload concentration that correlates with the antitumor efficacy of ADCs and 2) an ADC can deliver an unnecessary level of payload to tumors in xenograft models.

MeSH terms

  • Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine / administration & dosage
  • Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine / pharmacokinetics
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / pharmacokinetics*
  • Benzodiazepines / chemistry
  • Brentuximab Vedotin / administration & dosage
  • Brentuximab Vedotin / pharmacokinetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / administration & dosage
  • Immunoconjugates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pyrroles / chemistry
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 2 / metabolism
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • CD22 protein, human
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Pyrroles
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 2
  • pyrrolo(2,1-c)(1,4)benzodiazepine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Brentuximab Vedotin
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine