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Robust population pharmacokinetic (PK) data for fluconazole are scarce. The variability of fluconazole penetration into the central nervous system (CNS) is not known. A fluconazole PK study was conducted in 43 patients receiving oral fluconazole (usually 800 mg every 24 h [q24h]) in combination with amphotericin B deoxycholate (1 mg/kg q24h) for cryptococcal meningitis (CM). A four-compartment PK model was developed, and Monte Carlo simulations were performed for a range of fluconazole dosages. A meta-analysis of trials reporting outcomes of CM patients treated with fluconazole monotherapy was performed. Adjusted for bioavailability, the PK parameter means (standard deviation) were the following: clearance, 0.72 (0.24) liters/h; volume of the central compartment, 18.07 (6.31) liters; volume of the CNS compartment, 32.07 (17.60) liters; first-order rate constant from the central to peripheral compartment, 12.20 (11.17) h-1, from the peripheral to central compartment, 18.10 (8.25) h-1, from the central to CNS compartment, 35.43 (13.74) h-1, and from the CNS to central the compartment, 28.63 (10.03) h-1 Simulations of the area under concentration-time curve resulted in median (interquartile range) values of 1,143.2 (range, 988.4 to 1,378.0) mg · h/liter in plasma (AUCplasma) and 982.9 (range, 781.0 to 1,185.9) mg · h/liter in cerebrospinal fluid (AUCCSF) after a dosage of 1,200 mg q24h. The mean simulated ratio of AUCCSF/AUCplasma was 0.89 (standard deviation [SD], 0.44). The recommended dosage of fluconazole for CM induction therapy fails to attain the pharmacodynamic (PD) target in respect to the wild-type MIC distribution for C. neoformans The meta-analysis suggested modest improvements in both CSF sterility and mortality outcomes with escalating dosage. This study provides the pharmacodynamic rationale for the long-recognized fact that fluconazole monotherapy is an inadequate induction regimen for CM.

Original publication




Journal article


Antimicrob Agents Chemother

Publication Date





central nervous system infections, central nervous system pharmacokinetics, cryptococcal meningitis, fluconazole, meta-analysis, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics