Original Article

Population pharmacokinetic analysis of tacrolimus in Chinese myasthenia gravis patients

Authors: Yu-si CHEN, Zi-qi LIU, Rong CHEN, Lei WANG, Ling HUANG, Xiao ZHU, Tian-yan ZHOU, Wei LU, Ping MA
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2016.174


The importance of tacrolimus in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (MG) as a substitute for corticosteroid-dependent immunosuppressive therapy is increasing. Thus far, however, no population pharmacokinetic (PopPK) analysis of tacrolimus in treating MG patients has been published. This article aimed to construct a PopPK model of tacrolimus for Chinese MG patients with the goal of improving its performance in MG treatment. A total of 253 trough concentration records were obtained from 83 Chinese MG patients. The effects of demographics, lifestyle and health status, biochemical test data, disease progression and treatment-related information (including co-administered medications) as covariates on the various parameters were investigated. The covariate selection was based on biological plausibility, clinical significance, statistical significance and reduction in inter-individual variability (IIV). Bootstrap and normalized prediction distribution error (NPDE) analysis were performed to validate the final model. A one-compartment PopPK model with first-order elimination and a fixed absorption phase was constructed. The estimated apparent oral clearance (CL/F) and apparent oral volume of distribution (V/F) were 3.6 L/h and 1700 L, respectively, in the MG patients. Hematocrit and blood urea nitrogen were identified as two covariates that significantly influenced the CL/F. Immunoglobulin treatment (PRO) also had the potential to influence V/F, which was consistent with the clinical observations and the high protein-binding property of tacrolimus. Other covariates including age, weight, gender and co-administered medications had no obvious influence on CL/F or V/F. The first PopPK model of tacrolimus in MG patients was established. The identified covariates were of biological plausibility and clinical importance to help individualize the dosing schedule in MG patients.
Keywords: myasthenia gravis; immunosuppressant; tacrolimus; population pharmacokinetics; hematocrit; blood urea nitrogen; immunoglobulin treatment