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Human pharmacokinetics and toxicity of high-dose metronidazole administered orally and intravenously

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  • Medicine


Abstract This study is part of a clinical program to assess the use of nitroimidazoles as radiosensitizers of hypoxic tumor cells. A total of 37 patients with malignant tumors have been entered into the study to receive oral high-dose metronidazole in conjunction with radiation. Twenty-eight patients with malignant brain tumors received 6 gm/m 2 three times a week for 3 weeks (a mean total dose of 5.3 gm/m 2). Maximum mean plasma drug concentration of 1 mM was obtained at 4 hours after drug ingestion with a mean half-life of 13 hours. Tissue and cerebrospinal fluid levels of 80% to 90% of the plasma levels were obtained at 4 to 6 hours. A linear relationship between increased drug dose and increased plasma concentration was observed at doses of 2.5 gm/m 2 up to 6 gm/m 2. Acute gastrointestinal and central nervous system toxicity was the dose-limiting factor (50% and 25%, respectively, at total doses of 5.3 gm/m 2). Pharmacokinetic studies of intravenous metronidazole were performed in eight consenting patients. Single doses of 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 gm were administered intravenously by zero-order infusion pump. Seven of the eight patients received a second identical dose orally 1 week later and the results were compared. Open two-compartment kinetic characteristics of metronidazole were computed from simultaneous plasma infusion and urine excretion rate equations, by use of a nonlinear least-squares regression analysis program (NONLIN). The mean (±SD) for alpha half-life was 1.2 ± 1.3 hours, and that for the beta half-life was 9.8 ± 5.9 hours. The absolute oral bioavailability was estimated to approximate 100%.

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