Pharmacokinetics and Bioavailability of Inhaled Esketamine in Healthy Volunteers

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Abstract

Background:

Esketamine is traditionally administered via intravenous or intramuscular routes. In this study we developed a pharmacokinetic model of inhalation of nebulized esketamine with special emphasis on pulmonary absorption and bioavailability.

Methods:

Three increasing doses of inhaled esketamine (dose escalation from 25 to 100 mg) were applied followed by a single intravenous dose (20 mg) in 19 healthy volunteers using a nebulizer system and arterial concentrations of esketamine and esnorketamine were obtained. A multicompartmental pharmacokinetic model was developed using population nonlinear mixed-effects analyses.

Results:

The pharmacokinetic model consisted of three esketamine, two esnorketamine disposition and three metabolism compartments. The inhalation data were best described by adding two absorption pathways, an immediate and a slower pathway, with rate constant 0.05 ± 0.01 min–1 (median ± SE of the estimate). The amount of esketamine inhaled was reduced due to dose-independent and dose-dependent reduced bioavailability. The former was 70% ± 5%, and the latter was described by a sigmoid EMAX model characterized by the plasma concentration at which absorption was impaired by 50% (406 ± 46 ng/ml). Over the concentration range tested, up to 50% of inhaled esketamine is lost due to the reduced dose-independent and dose-dependent bioavailability.

Conclusions:

We successfully modeled the inhalation of nebulized esketamine in healthy volunteers. Nebulized esketamine is inhaled with a substantial reduction in bioavailability. Although the reduction in dose-independent bioavailability is best explained by retention of drug and particle exhalation, the reduction in dose-dependent bioavailability is probably due to sedation-related loss of drug into the air.

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