Pharmacokinetics of leucovorin calcium after intravenous, intramuscular, and oral administration

Clin Pharm. 1988 Jan;7(1):52-8.


The pharmacokinetics of leucovorin was evaluated after intravenous, intramuscular, and oral administration in a randomized crossover study of 37 healthy men. A single 25-mg dose of leucovorin calcium was administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or orally to the subjects. Blood samples were obtained immediately before and at 13 time points up to 24 hours after the leucovorin dose. The three treatment phases were separated by one-week intervals. Bioavailability was assessed by measuring over 24 hours the blood concentrations of total folates, the parent compound 5-formyltetrahydrofolate, and the metabolite 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, using differential microbiologic assays with Lactobacillus casei and Streptococcus faecalis. Both intravenous and intramuscular administration produced rapid increases in serum concentrations of biologically active folates; these rises were sustained over time and were still detectable at 24 hours after drug administration. The bioavailability of intravenous and intramuscular doses was comparable based on area under the serum concentration-time curve, although for intramuscular administration, the peak concentration was lower and the time to peak concentration was longer. The initial rise in serum folate with intravenous and intramuscular dosing represented 5-formyltetrahydrofolate; this fell concomitantly with the appearance of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. Oral leucovorin was 92% bioavailable compared with intravenous administration and produced a predictably different pattern of circulating folates, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate being the predominant form. Terminal elimination half-life, apparent volume of distribution, and clearance of total folate were not significantly different among the three treatments.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Leucovorin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male


  • Leucovorin