This study aimed to investigate if the absorption of the human African trypanosomiasis agent eflornithine was stereospecific and dose dependent after oral administration. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered single doses of racemic eflornithine hydrochloride as an oral solution (750, 1,500, 2,000, or 3,000 mg/kg of body weight) or intravenously (375 or 1,000 mg/kg of body weight). Sparse blood samples were obtained for determination of eflornithine enantiomers by liquid chromatography with evaporative light-scattering detection (lower limit of quantification [LLOQ], 83 microM for 300 microl plasma). The full plasma concentration-time profile of racemic eflornithine following frequent sampling was determined for another group of rats, using a high-performance liquid chromatography-UV method (LLOQ, 5 microM for 50 microl plasma). Pharmacokinetic data were analyzed in NONMEM for the combined racemic and enantiomeric concentrations. Upon intravenous administration, the plasma concentration-time profile of eflornithine was biphasic, with marginal differences in enantiomer kinetics (mean clearances of 14.5 and 12.6 ml/min/kg for L- and D-eflornithine, respectively). The complex absorption kinetics were modeled with a number of transit compartments to account for delayed absorption, transferring the drug into an absorption compartment from which the rate of influx was saturable. The mean bioavailabilities for L- and D-eflornithine were 41% and 62%, respectively, in the dose range of 750 to 2,000 mg/kg of body weight, with suggested increases to 47% and 83%, respectively, after a dose of 3,000 mg/kg of body weight. Eflornithine exhibited enantioselective absorption, with the more potent L-isomer being less favored, a finding which may help to explain why clinical attempts to develop an oral treatment have hitherto failed. The mechanistic explanation for the stereoselective absorption remains unclear.
2008. Vol. 52, no 8, 2842-2848 p.