Putting square pegs in round holes: why traditional pharmacokinetic principles cannot universally be applied to iron-carbohydrate complexes

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2023 May 2;S0939-6411(23)00113-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2023.04.025. Online ahead of print.


Intravenous iron-carbohydrate complexes are nanomedicines that are commonly used to treat iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia of various etiologies. Many challenges remain regarding these complex drugs in the context of fully understanding their pharmacokinetic parameters. Firstly, the measurement of the intact iron nanoparticles versus endogenous iron concentration fundamentally limits the availability of data for computational modeling. Secondly, the models need to include several parameters to describe the iron metabolism which is not completely defined and those identified (e.g. ferritin) exhibit considerable interpatient variability. Additionally, modeling is further complicated by the lack of traditional receptor/enzyme interactions. The known parameters of bioavailability, distribution, metabolism, and excretion for iron-carbohydrate nanomedicines will be reviewed and future challenges that currently prevent the direct application of physiologically-based pharmacokinetic or other computational modeling techniques will be discussed.

Keywords: intravenous iron-carbohydrate complex; kidney disease; nanoparticle; pharmacodynamics; physiologically based pharmacokinetics.