Incorporating pharmacokinetic differences between children and adults in assessing children's risks to environmental toxicants

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Children's risks from environmental toxicant exposure can be affected by pharmacokinetic factors that affect the internal dose of parent chemical or active metabolite. There are numerous physiologic differences between neonates and adults that affect pharmacokinetics including size of lipid, and tissue compartments, organ blood flows, protein binding capacity, and immature function of renal and hepatic systems. These factors combine to decrease the clearance of many therapeutic drugs, which can also be expected to occur with environmental toxicants in neonates. The net effect may be greater or lesser internal dose of active toxicant depending upon how the agent is distributed, metabolized, and eliminated. Child/adult pharmacokinetic differences decrease with increasing postnatal age, but these factors should still be considered in any children's age group, birth through adolescence, for which there is toxicant exposure. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models can simulate the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of xenobiotics in both children and adults, allowing for a direct comparison of internal dose and risk across age groups. This review provides special focus on the development of hepatic cytochrome P-450 enzymes (CYPs) in early life and how this information, along with many factors unique to children, can be applied to PBPK models for this receptor population. This review describes a case study involving the development of neonatal PBPK models for the CYP1A2 substrates caffeine and theophylline. These models were calibrated with pharmacokinetic data in neonates and used to help understand key metabolic differences between neonates and adults across these two drugs.

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