Among somatostatin analogues, octreotide is the most extensively studied. Its pharmacodynamic properties are similar to those of somatostatin, with a wide spectrum of inhibitory effects on anterior pituitary function, pancreas and gut endocrine secretions, and gastrointestinal functions. Compared with the somatostatin, octreotide is highly resistant to enzymatic degradation and has a prolonged plasma half-life of about 100 minutes in humans, allowing its use in the long term treatment of various pathological conditions. Differential effects of octreotide on endocrine secretions such as growth hormone (GH) and insulin in healthy volunteers, as well as variable efficacy in the treatment of endocrine tumours, may relate to the distribution of somatostatin receptor subtypes.
The volume of distribution of octreotide ranges from 18 to 30L. Calculated serum distribution half-life ranges from 72 to 98 minutes. In blood, octreotide is mainly distributed in the plasma. 65% being bound to lipoproteins. After subcutaneous injection, absorption appears rapid and complete and bioavailability is about 100%. Mean peak plasma concentrations are between 2 and 4 μg/L in patients receiving 50 to 100μg. Peak concentrations are reached within 20 to 30 minutes and are 20 to 40% of corresponding values after intravenous injection. Peak concentrations and values for areas under the plasma concentration-time curve linearly correlate with the dosage. The elimination half-life is about 90 to 110 minutes. Total clearance in healthy individuals is about 160 ml/min (9.6 L/h). Hepatic metabolism of octreotide is extensive (30 to 40%) and about 11 to 20% of the dose is excreted unchanged in the urine.
Among pituitary tumours, GH- and thyrotrophin-secreting adenomas are the most sensitive to octreotide. Octreotide has been widely used in the treatment of acromegaly. 50 to 80% of the patients respond to daily multiple subcutaneous injections with insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1) levels being normalised in about 40 to 50% of them. Neither desensitisation with long term therapy nor rebound phenomena after octreotide withdrawal have been noticed in these studies.
Even in patients with partial response, clinical symptoms improved. Octreotide daily dosages needed to achieve optimum responses may vary greatly from one patient to another. In a minority of patients complete resistance to octreotide was observed and was not always related to the absence of somatostatin receptors in the tumour. The wide spectrum of effects of octreotide in humans accounts for adverse effects seen during long term treatment, primarily cholelithiasis.
Other modes of administration are efficient. In particular, continuous subcutaneous infusion allows the use of a smaller dosage, but is more effective than multiple injections in some patients. Intranasal administration is now also being investigated and seems promising.