Application of physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling for sertraline dosing recommendations in pregnancy

Blessy George, Annie Lumen, Christine Nguyen, Barbara Wesley, Jian Wang, Julie Beitz, Victor Crentsil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pregnancy is a period of significant change that impacts physiological and metabolic status leading to alterations in the disposition of drugs. Uncertainty in drug dosing in pregnancy can lead to suboptimal therapy, which can contribute to disease exacerbation. A few studies show there are increased dosing requirements for antidepressants in late pregnancy; however, the quantitative data to guide dose adjustments are sparse. We aimed to develop a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model that allows gestational-age dependent prediction of sertraline dosing in pregnancy. A minimal physiological model with defined gut, liver, plasma, and lumped placental-fetal compartments was constructed using the ordinary differential equation solver package, 'mrgsolve', in R. We extracted data from the literature to parameterize the model, including sertraline physicochemical properties, in vitro metabolism studies, disposition in nonpregnant women, and physiological changes during pregnancy. The model predicted the pharmacokinetic parameters from a clinical study with eight subjects for the second trimester and six subjects for the third trimester. Based on the model, gestational-dependent changes in physiology and metabolism account for increased clearance of sertraline (up to 143% at 40 weeks gestational age), potentially leading to under-dosing of pregnant women when nonpregnancy doses are used. The PBPK model was converted to a prototype web-based interactive dosing tool to demonstrate how the output of a PBPK model may translate into optimal sertraline dosing in pregnancy. Quantitative prediction of drug exposure using PBPK modeling in pregnancy will support clinically appropriate dosing and increase the therapeutic benefit for pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36
Number of pages1
Journalnpj Systems Biology and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 6 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Drug Discovery
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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