Caffeine concentrations in preterm infants are usually measured in the blood. However, salivary assays may provide a valid and practical alternative. The present study explored the validity and clinical utility of salivary caffeine concentrations as an alternative to blood concentrations and developed a novel plasma/salivary caffeine distribution model.Methods
Paired salivary and plasma samples were obtained in 29 infants. Salivary samples were obtained using a commercially available salivary collection system. Caffeine concentrations in the saliva and plasma were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography. A population pharmacokinetic (PK) model was developed using NONMEM 7.3.Results
The mean (± standard deviation) gestational age (GA) at birth and birth weight were 27.9 ± 2.1 weeks and 1171.6 ± 384.9 g, respectively. Paired samples were obtained at a mean postmenstrual age (PMA) of 35.5 ± 1.1 weeks. The range of plasma caffeine concentrations was 9.5–54.1 μg ml−1, with a mean difference (95% confidence interval) between plasma and salivary concentrations of −0.18 μg ml−1 (−1.90, 1.54). Salivary and plasma caffeine concentrations were strongly correlated (Pearson's correlation coefficient = 0.87, P < 0.001). Caffeine PK in plasma and saliva was simultaneously described by a three-compartment recirculation model. Current body weight, birth weight, GA, PMA and postnatal age were not significantly correlated with any PK parameter.Conclusions
Salivary sampling provides an easy, non-invasive method for measuring caffeine concentrations. Salivary concentrations correlate highly with plasma concentrations. Caffeine PK in saliva and plasma are well described by a three-compartment recirculation model.