Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile of donepezil HCl following single oral doses

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The aim of this study was to characterize the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile of donepezil HCl, a chemically distinct and specific acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, following administration of single oral doses.


This was a double-blind, randomized, single-dose, placebo-controlled, sequential-group, ascending-dose study in healthy male volunteers (n=48). Six dose levels were investigated, ranging from 0.3 to 6.0 mg. Donepezil concentrations in plasma were determined by HPLC with UV detection. Pharmacodynamic activity was determined by the radioenzymatic measurement of erythrocyte membrane acetylcholinesterase (rbc-AChE) inhibition.


The pharmacokinetic disposition of donepezil was observed to be both linear and dose proportional following single-dose administration. The mean peak plasma concentration (Cmax) of donepezil was observed at 4.1 ± 1.5 h. The mean terminal disposition half-life was 81.5 ± 22.0 h. The post-absorption phase of the plasma concentration-time curves for the 4.0 mg and 6.0 mg doses appeared to be biphasic, but the rate of donepezil clearance was independent of dose. Plasma concentrations for the 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 mg dose groups were generally below the level of HPLC detection (2.0 ng ml−1), preventing accurate characterization of these doses. A direct correlation was observed between plasma donepezil concentrations and extent of AChE inhibition. For the 4.0 and 6.0 mg donepezil dose groups, maximal AChE inhibition (Emax) ranged from 33% to 35% and there was significant correlation between AChE inhibition and donepezil plasma concentration (P < 0.005).


The pharmacokinetics of donepezil were found to be linear and dose proportional following the administration of single doses to healthy volunteers. A direct correlation was also observed between plasma donepezil concentrations and AChE inhibition. The extended half-life of donepezil makes it suitable for once-daily dosing.

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