Diabetes & metabolism

Kinetics of plasma and erythrocyte metformin after acute administration in healthy subjects.

PMID 12909816


Although the existence of a deep compartment for metformin has long been hypothesized, there is still little direct information concerning metformin distribution in individual tissues in man. The only available study involves chronic metformin therapy. In that study, the measurement of metformin in erythrocytes provided a reliable indicator of metformin distribution and of potential accumulation. To determine the kinetics of metformin in plasma and in erythrocytes after acute oral administration, we performed the present study in healthy subjects after a single oral dose of metformin and compared the pharmacokinetics parameters in erythrocytes to those in plasma. Six nondiabetic participants took the study dose of 850 mg metformin at 8: 00 AM after a non-standardized breakfast (i.e., as recommended in clinical practice). Blood samples were collected for metformin measurement in plasma and in erythrocytes at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 24, 33, 48, 57, and 72 h. Maximum metformin concentration was attained at 3.0 +/- 0.3 h in plasma and 4.7 +/- 0.5 h in erythrocytes. This difference was not significant. Metformin concentrations peaked at a maximum almost 6 times higher in plasma than in erythrocytes (1.7 +/- 0.1 and 0.3 +/- 0.0 mg/l, respectively). However, because the elimination half-life of metformin was much longer in erythrocytes (23.4 +/- 1.9 h vs. 2.7 +/- 1.2 h), there was no difference in area under the curve between plasma and erythrocytes. The distribution volume (plasma) was calculated to be 146 +/- 11 l. Plasma and erythrocytes concentration-time curves showed that metformin was not detectable in plasma 24 hours after the oral administration, while it remained detectable in erythrocytes up to 48 hours. Metformin concentrations crossed approximately 13 hours after having reached their maximum values in plasma, approximately 16 h after metformin intake. Having demonstrated the rapid elimination of metformin from plasma and its slow disappearance from erythrocytes, the presents results should contribute to adjustment of metformin dosage to renal function, assessment of drug compliance, and retrospective analysis (when blood samples are drawn with delay) of the link between metformin and development of lactic acidosis. Most importantly, the present findings should help to ascertain the optimal dosage of metformin, particularly in elderly patients.