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25.07.2019 | Original Research Article | Ausgabe 1/2020 Open Access

Clinical Pharmacokinetics 1/2020

Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling to Characterize Acetaminophen Pharmacokinetics and N-Acetyl-p-Benzoquinone Imine (NAPQI) Formation in Non-Pregnant and Pregnant Women

Clinical Pharmacokinetics > Ausgabe 1/2020
Paola Mian, John N. van den Anker, Kristel van Calsteren, Pieter Annaert, Dick Tibboel, Marc Pfister, Karel Allegaert, André Dallmann
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40262-019-00799-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Background and Objective

Little is known about acetaminophen (paracetamol) pharmacokinetics during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to develop a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model to predict acetaminophen pharmacokinetics throughout pregnancy.


PBPK models for acetaminophen and its metabolites were developed in non-pregnant and pregnant women. Physiological and enzymatic changes in pregnant women expected to impact acetaminophen pharmacokinetics were considered. Models were evaluated using goodness-of-fit plots and by comparing predicted pharmacokinetic profiles with in vivo pharmacokinetic data. Predictions were performed to illustrate the average concentration at steady state (Css,avg) values, used as an indicator for efficacy, of acetaminophen achieved following administration of 1000 mg every 6 h. Furthermore, as a measurement of potential hepatotoxicity, the molar dose fraction of acetaminophen converted to N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) was estimated.


PBPK models successfully predicted the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen and its metabolites in non-pregnant and pregnant women. Predictions resulted in the lowest Css,avg in the third trimester (median [interquartile range]: 4.5 [3.8–5.1] mg/L), while Css,avg was 6.7 [5.9–7.4], 5.6 [4.7–6.3], and 4.9 [4.1–5.5] mg/L in non-pregnant, first trimester, and second trimester populations, respectively. Assuming a constant raised cytochrome P450 2E1 activity throughout pregnancy, the molar dose fraction of acetaminophen converted to NAPQI was highest during the first trimester (median [interquartile range]: 11.0% [9.1–13.4%]), followed by the second (9.0% [7.5–11.0%]) and third trimester (8.2% [6.8–10.1%]), compared with non-pregnant women (7.7% [6.4–9.4%]).


Acetaminophen exposure is lower in pregnant than in non-pregnant women, and is related to pregnancy duration. Despite these findings, higher dose adjustments cannot be advised yet as it is unknown whether pregnancy affects the toxicodynamics of NAPQI. Information on glutathione abundance during pregnancy and NAPQI in vivo data are required to further refine the presented model.

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