Population pharmacokinetics of busulfan in pediatric and young adult patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplant: A model-based dosing algorithm for personalized therapy and implementation into routine clinical use

Janel R. Long-Boyle, Rada Savic, Shirley Yan, Imke Bartelink, Lisa Musick, Deborah French, Jason Law, Biljana Horn, Morton J. Cowan, Christopher C. Dvorak

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Background: Population pharmacokinetic (PK) studies of busulfan in children have shown that individualized model-based algorithms provide improved targeted busulfan therapy when compared with conventional dose guidelines. The adoption of population PK models into routine clinical practice has been hampered by the tendency of pharmacologists to develop complex models too impractical for clinicians to use. The authors aimed to develop a population PK model for busulfan in children that can reliably achieve therapeutic exposure (concentration at steady state) and implement a simple model-based tool for the initial dosing of busulfan in children undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation. Patients and Methods: Model development was conducted using retrospective data available in 90 pediatric and young adult patients who had undergone hematopoietic cell transplantation with busulfan conditioning. Busulfan drug levels and potential covariates influencing drug exposure were analyzed using the nonlinear mixed effects modeling software, NONMEM. The final population PK model was implemented into a clinician-friendly Microsoft Excel-based tool and used to recommend initial doses of busulfan in a group of 21 pediatric patients prospectively dosed based on the population PK model. Results: Modeling of busulfan time-concentration data indicates that busulfan clearance displays nonlinearity in children, decreasing up to approximately 20% between the concentrations of 250-2000 ng/mL. Important patient-specific covariates found to significantly impact busulfan clearance were actual body weight and age. The percentage of individuals achieving a therapeutic concentration at steady state was significantly higher in subjects receiving initial doses based on the population PK model (81%) than in historical controls dosed on conventional guidelines (52%) (P = 0.02). Conclusions: When compared with the conventional dosing guidelines, the model-based algorithm demonstrates significant improvement for providing targeted busulfan therapy in children and young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalTherapeutic drug monitoring
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2015


  • busulfan
  • hematopoietic cell transplantation
  • pediatric
  • pharmacokinetics
  • therapeutic drug monitoring

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