Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Lawrence L. Fleckenstein

First Committee Member

Erika J Ernst

Second Committee Member

Lee E Kirsh

Third Committee Member

Dawei Liu

Fourth Committee Member

Daryl J Murry


Artemisinin compounds are the most potent anti-malarial drugs available in the market. Today, malaria treatment is largely relies on the artemisinin-based combination therapies. Artesunate (AS) is the most widely used artemisinin derivative.

In this thesis, we characterized the population pharmacokinetics of AS and its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA) following oral administration of AS in different populations. In Chapter II, we developed a population pharmacokinetic model of AS and DHA in healthy subjects. These subjects received either single- or multiple-dosing of oral AS, as a monotherapy regimen or in combination with pyronaridine, with or without food. In Chapter III, we developed a population pharmacokinetic model of AS and DHA in adult and pediatric patients with uncomplicated falciparum and vivax malaria who were administered oral pyronaridine/artesunate combination once daily for 3 days.

We modeled the AS and DHA data simultaneously using a parent-metabolite model that assumed complete conversion of AS to DHA. Following oral administration, AS is rapidly absorbed with maximum concentrations reached at about 0.5 hours post-dose. AS is rapidly converted to DHA. DHA then undergoes rapid metabolism, with an elimination half-life of about 0.8 hours in malarial patients. Inter-individual variability for almost all pharmacokinetic parameters and residual variability for both compounds were estimated by the models. Substantial variability was seen in the pharmacokinetic parameters between the subjects.

In healthy subjects, intake of food with the dose was found to delay the absorption of AS significantly, but not the extent of absorption. Weight was also included in this model as a determinant of DHA clearance. When modeling the data from patients, we included weight as part of the model a prioria priori using an established allometric function. No other covariates examined in the analysis were statistically significant.

The performance of final models was evaluated using non-parametric bootstrap technique and visual predictive check. The models were found to adequately described the data at hand, and robust with sufficient predictive power. The results can be used as the base to develop a population pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic model and as prior information in guiding the selection of optimal sampling schedule for future pharmacokinetic studies of AS.


artemisinins, artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, malaria, NONMEM, population pharmacokinetics


xii, 137 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 122-137).


Copyright 2009 Bee San Tan