Preclinical Pharmacokinetic Profile of Topical Ophthalmic and Intravenous Delivery of QLS-101, a Novel ATP-Sensitive Potassium Channel Opening Ocular Hypotensive Agent

J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2023 Jun;39(5):332-346. doi: 10.1089/jop.2022.0184. Epub 2023 May 17.


Purpose: To evaluate the pharmacokinetic profiles of the ocular hypotensive agent QLS-101, a novel ATP-sensitive potassium channel opening prodrug, and its active moiety levcromakalim, following topical ophthalmic and intravenous dosing of normotensive rabbits and dogs. Methods: Dutch belted rabbits (n = 85) and beagle dogs (n = 32) were dosed with QLS-101 (0.16-3.2 mg/eye/dose) or formulation buffer for 28 days. Pharmacokinetic profiles of QLS-101 and levcromakalim were evaluated in ocular tissues and blood by LC-MS/MS. Tolerability was assessed by clinical and ophthalmic examinations. Maximum systemic tolerated dose was evaluated in beagle dogs (n = 2) following intravenous bolus administrations of QLS-101 (0.05 to 5 mg/kg). Results: Plasma analysis following topical dosing of QLS-101 (0.8-3.2 mg/eye/dose) for 28 days indicated an elimination half-life (T1/2) of 5.50-8.82 h and a corresponding time (Tmax) range of 2-12 h in rabbits, and a T1/2 of 3.32-6.18 h with a Tmax range of 1-2 h in dogs. Maximum tissue concentration (Cmax) values ranged from 54.8-540 (day 1) to 50.5-777 ng/mL (day 28) in rabbits, and 36.5-166 (day 1) to 47.0-147 ng/mL (day 28) in dogs. Levcromakalim plasma T1/2 and Tmax were similar to QLS-101, while Cmax was consistently lower. Topical ophthalmic delivery of QLS-101 was well tolerated in both species, with sporadic mild ocular hyperemia noted in the group treated with the highest concentration (3.2 mg/eye/dose). Following topical ophthalmic dosing, QLS-101 and levcromakalim were found primarily in the cornea, sclera, and conjunctiva. Maximum tolerated dose was determined to be 3 mg/kg. Conclusions: QLS-101 was converted to its active moiety levcromakalim and showed characteristic absorption, distribution, and safety profiles of a well-tolerated prodrug.

Keywords: ATP-sensitive potassium channel; CKLP1; glaucoma; intraocular pressure; levcromakalim; prodrug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cornea
  • Cromakalim
  • Dogs
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Prodrugs* / pharmacokinetics
  • Prodrugs* / therapeutic use
  • Rabbits
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Cromakalim
  • Prodrugs
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Ophthalmic Solutions