Development of a Generic Fetal Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Model and Prediction of Human Maternal and Fetal Organ Concentrations of Cefuroxime

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Clinical pharmacokinetics




BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models for pregnant women have recently been successfully used to predict maternal and umbilical cord pharmacokinetics (PK). Because there is very limited opportunity for conducting clinical and PK investigations for fetal drug exposure, PBPK models may provide further insights. The objectives of this study were to extend a whole-body pregnancy PBPK model by multiple compartments representing fetal organs, and to predict the PK of cefuroxime in the maternal and fetal plasma, the amniotic fluid, and several fetal organs. METHODS: To this end, a previously developed pregnancy PBPK model for cefuroxime was updated using the open-source software Open Systems Pharmacology (PK-Sim/MoBi). Multiple compartments were implemented to represent fetal organs including brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, the gastrointestinal tract (GI), muscles, and fat tissue, as well as another compartment lumping organs and tissues not explicitly represented. RESULTS: This novel PBPK model successfully predicted cefuroxime concentrations in maternal blood, umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, and several fetal organs including heart, liver, and lungs. Further model validation with additional clinical PK data is needed to build confidence in the model. CONCLUSIONS: Being developed with an open-source software, the presented generic model can be freely re-used and tailored to address specific questions at hand, e.g., to assist the design of clinical studies in the context of drug research or to predict fetal organ concentrations of chemicals in the context of fetal health risk assessment.


Pharmacology and Physiology