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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling of the new steroid hypnotic eltanolone in healthy volunteers.

BACKGROUND: In the last 4 y, several authors have reported largely satisfactory results using the new steroid intravenous anesthetic eltanolone (pregnanolone) to induce anesthesia. Until now, however, no investigations have addressed the infusion pharmacokinetics of eltanolone or used electroencephalographic effect data for full pharmacodynamic modeling. Thus the authors conducted a study to evaluate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of eltanolone after infusion in healthy volunteers. METHODS: Eltanolone emulsion was administered to 12 healthy men using a computer-controlled infusion device. Linearly increasing serum concentrations were generated for two consecutive infusions with an anticipated slope of 0.075 and a targeted concentration of 2-2.5 micrograms/ml. During and after the infusion, electroencephalographic data were recorded as a continuous pharmacodynamic parameter to measure the hypnotic effect. In addition, blood pressure, heart rate, pulse oximetry, clinical signs of anesthesia, and any undesirable effects were recorded. The appearance of burst suppression periods in the raw electroencephalographic wave form was used as an end point for the infusion. Arterial blood samples were drawn frequently until 720 min after the cessation of the last infusion cycle. Eltanolone serum concentrations were measured using a specific gas chromatography-mass spectrometry assay. Nonlinear regression analysis was used to relate a power spectral parameter of the electroencephalograph (median frequency) to the serum concentration using a sigmoid Emax model, including an effect compartment to minimize possible hysteresis. Population pharmacokinetics were analyzed using an open three-compartment model. RESULTS: The pharmacokinetic model parameters of eltanolone were characterized by a high total clearance (1.75 +/- 0.22 l/min), small volumes of distribution (Vc = 7.65 +/- 3.40 l; Vdss = 91.6 +/- 22 l), and relatively short half-lives (t1/2 alpha = 1.5 +/- 0.6 min; t1/2 beta = 27 +/- 5 min; t1/2 gamma = 184 +/- 32 min). With regard to the pharmacodynamic model parameters, eltanolone proved to be a potent hypnotic agent (Cp50 = 0.46 +/- 0.09 microgram/ml). The hypnotic effect coincided with a remarkable hysteresis between serum concentration and biophase, determined by an equilibration half-life of 8 min (ke0 = 0.087 +/- 0.013 min-1). All volunteers breathed spontaneously during the entire observation period and showed no clinically relevant hemodynamic changes. One volunteer experienced a convulsion while awakening. CONCLUSIONS: Eltanolone is a new potent steroid-type hypnotic agent with rapid elimination characteristics. Although it is short-acting, the remarkable hysteresis limits the control and might complicate administration of eltanolone if it is used as a component of a complete intravenous anesthesia regimen. Furthermore, it involves the potential disadvantage of drug accumulation and it prolongs recovery if larger-than-necessary doses are used to induce anesthesia rapidly.[1]


  1. Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling of the new steroid hypnotic eltanolone in healthy volunteers. Hering, W.J., Ihmsen, H., Langer, H., Uhrlau, C., Dinkel, M., Geisslinger, G., Schüttler, J. Anesthesiology (1996) [Pubmed]
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