Erwinia asparaginase is an important component in the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A large variability in serum concentrations has been observed after intravenous Erwinia asparaginase. Currently, Dutch Childhood Oncology Group protocols dose alterations are based on trough concentrations to ensure adequate asparaginase activity (≥100 IU/L). The aim of this study was to describe the population pharmacokinetics of intravenous Erwinia asparaginase to quantify and gather insight into inter-individual and inter-occasion variability. The starting dose was evaluated on the basis of the derived population pharmacokinetic parameters. In a multicenter prospective observational study, a total of 714 blood samples were collected from 51 children (age 1-17 years) with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The starting dose was 20,000 IU/m2 three times a week and adjusted according to trough levels from week three onwards. A population pharmacokinetic model was developed using NONMEM®. A 2-compartment linear model with allometric scaling best described the data. Inter-individual and interoccasion variability of clearance were 33% and 13%, respectively. Clearance in the first month of treatment was 14% higher (P<0.01). Monte Carlo simulations with our pharmacokinetic model demonstrated that patients with a low weight might require higher doses to achieve similar concentrations compared to patients with high weight. The current starting dose of 20,000 IU/m2 might result in inadequate concentrations, especially for smaller, lower weight patients, hence dose adjustments based on individual clearance are recommended. The protocols were approved by the institutional review boards.

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Journal Haematologica
Sassen, S.D.T. (Sebastiaan D. T.), Mathot, R.A, Pieters, R, Kloos, R.Q.H, de Haas, V, Kaspers, G.J, … van der Sluis, I.M. (2017). Population pharmacokinetics of intravenous erwinia asparaginase in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. Haematologica, 102(3), 552–561. doi:10.3324/haematol.2016.149195