Cannabidiol Bioavailability Is Nonmonotonic with a Long Terminal Elimination Half-Life: A Pharmacokinetic Modeling-Based Analysis

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2024 Apr 16. doi: 10.1089/can.2023.0214. Online ahead of print.


Background: Oral and inhalation-based cannabidiol (CBD) administration has been clinically evaluated for various therapeutic indications, alongside widespread off-label use. However, the long-term exposure kinetics and varied bioavailability have not been fully characterized. Methods: Human CBD plasma concentration-time profiles from six studies evaluating the oral administration of Epidiolex® and three studies evaluating inhalation-based delivery were obtained. A four-compartment pharmacokinetic (PK) model with Weibull-based oral absorption kinetics was employed to describe the long-term PKs of CBD. Furthermore, a Cedergreen-Ritz-Streibig model was applied to evaluate nonmonotonic oral bioavailability. Results: CBD was extensively distributed into tissue compartments with varied kinetics resulting in a long plasma terminal elimination half-life of >134 h in humans. For once-a-day oral dosing, the plasma trough concentrations require >70 days to reach a steady state. The oral bioavailability of CBD for different doses administered in fasted state follows a nonmonotonic pattern with an inverted U-shaped profile. Oral administration of CBD under fed state or subjects with hepatic impairment yields higher oral bioavailability with varied exposure. In contrast, inhalation-based delivery of CBD, while delivering a similar systemic delivered dose compared with oral dosing due to high device losses, bypasses first-pass metabolism and can be efficient. Conclusion: CBD PKs vary across different doses due to nonmonotonic oral bioavailability, and inhalation-based delivery could minimize such variability in humans. The delayed attainment of steady state and prolonged terminal half-life, resulting from differential but extensive tissue distribution, needs to be considered when dosing CBD in the long term. These fundamental findings are critical for establishing dose-exposure relationship for further clinical evaluation of novel CBD-based therapies.

Keywords: bioavailability; cannabidiol; half-life; inhalation; oral; pharmacokinetics.