Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects.
McGready R., Phyo AP., Rijken MJ., Tarning J., Lindegardh N., Hanpithakpon W., Than HH., Hlaing N., Zin NT., Singhasivanon P., White NJ., Nosten F.
AIM: To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance. METHODS: In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4mgkg(-1) ) on the first day and oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) ) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) day(-1) ) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum). RESULTS: I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n= 20) and in controls (n= 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ngml(-1) h)/(mgkg(-1) )] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P= 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P= 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P= 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P= 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P= 0.084). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.