The implications of non-linear red blood cell partitioning for the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the nucleoside transport inhibitor draflazine

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1996 Nov;42(5):605-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1996.tb00116.x.


1. Draflazine, a nucleoside transport inhibitor, was administered as a 15 min i.v. infusion of 2.5 mg to eight healthy male subjects. Plasma and whole blood concentrations were measured up to 32 h post-dose, and were related to adenosine breakdown inhibition (ABI) measured ex vivo, which served as a pharmacodynamic endpoint. 2. The red blood cell/plasma distribution of draflazine was non-linear and characterized as a capacity-limited specific binding to the nucleoside transporter on the red blood cells. The binding (dissociation) constant Kd was 0.87 ng ml-1 plasma and the maximal specific binding capacity (Bmax) was 164 ng ml-1 RBC, which corresponds to about 14,000 specific binding sites per erythrocyte. Non-specific binding amounted to less than 15% of the total binding. 3. The pharmacokinetics of draflazine in blood were determined in each subject and characterized by a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model. The pharmacokinetic parameters (mean +/- s.d.) were: clearance 22.0 +/- 8.0 ml mm-1, volume of distribution at steady-state 39.8 +/- 4.7 l and terminal half-life 24.0 +/- 9.4 h. Concentrations in plasma were much lower, and could only be determined accurately in pooled plasma samples with a red blood cell binding assay. The pharmacokinetic parameters in pooled plasma were: clearance 551 ml min-1, volume of distribution at steady-state 349 l and terminal half-life 10.7 h. 4. A non-linear relationship was observed between the plasma or blood concentration of draflazine and the ABI determined ex vivo. This relationship was characterized by the sigmoidal Emax pharmacodynamic model. Based on concentrations in pooled plasma, values of the pharmacodynamic parameters were Emax 100%, IC50 10.5 ng ml-1 and Hill factor 0.9. When using whole blood concentrations, the relationship was much steeper with values (mean +/- s.d.) Emax 92.4 +/- 5.6%, IC50 76.0 +/- 15.3 ng ml-1 and Hill factor 3.5 +/- 0.9. 5. Binding to the nucleoside transporter on red blood cells is an important determinant of the pharmacokinetics of draflazine and a high degree of occupancy of the transporter by draflazine is required to inhibit adenosine breakdown ex vivo. It is suggested that red blood cell nucleoside transporter occupancy may serve as a useful pharmacodynamic endpoint in dose ranging studies with draflazine.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Carrier Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Nucleoside Transport Proteins
  • Piperazines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nucleoside Transport Proteins
  • Piperazines
  • draflazine
  • Adenosine