Toward systems-informed models for biologics disposition: covariates of the abundance of the neonatal Fc Receptor (FcRn) in human tissues and implications for pharmacokinetic modelling

Eur J Pharm Sci. 2023 Mar 1;182:106375. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2023.106375. Epub 2023 Jan 7.


Biologics are a fast-growing therapeutic class, with intertwined pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, affected by the abundance and function of the FcRn receptor. While many investigators assume adequacy of classical models, such as allometry, for pharmacokinetic characterization of biologics, advocates of physiologically-based pharmacokinetics (PBPK) propose consideration of known systems parameters that affect the fate of biologics to enable a priori predictions, which go beyond allometry. The aim of this study was to deploy a systems-informed modelling approach to predict the disposition of Fc-containing biologics. We used global proteomics to quantify the FcRn receptor [p51 and β2-microglobulin (B2M) subunits] in 167 samples of human tissue (liver, intestine, kidney and skin) and assessed covariates of its expression. FcRn p51 subunit was highest in liver relative to other tissues, and B2M was 1-2 orders of magnitude more abundant than FcRn p51 across all sets. There were no sex-related differences, while higher expression was confirmed in neonate liver compared with adult liver. Trends of expression in liver and kidney indicated a moderate effect of body mass index, which should be confirmed in a larger sample size. Expression of FcRn p51 subunit was approximately 2-fold lower in histologically normal liver tissue adjacent to cancer compared with healthy liver. FcRn mRNA in plasma-derived exosomes correlated moderately with protein abundance in matching liver tissue, opening the possibility of use as a potential clinical tool. Predicted effects of trends in FcRn abundance in healthy and disease (cancer and psoriasis) populations using trastuzumab and efalizumab PBPK models were in line with clinical observations, and global sensitivity analysis revealed endogenous IgG plasma concentration and tissue FcRn abundance as key systems parameters influencing exposure to Fc-conjugated biologics.

Keywords: Biologics; FcRn; Pharmacokinetics; Systems pharmacology; pharmacodynamics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Products*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / analysis
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Receptors, Fc / genetics
  • Receptors, Fc / metabolism


  • Fc receptor, neonatal
  • Biological Products
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Receptors, Fc