Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy

Impact of hypoalbuminemia on voriconazole pharmacokinetics in critically ill adult patients.

PMID 25182655


Setting the adequate dose for voriconazole is challenging due to its variable pharmacokinetics. We investigated the impact of hypoalbuminemia (<35 g/liter) on voriconazole pharmacokinetics in adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients treated with voriconazole (20 samples in 13 patients) as well as in plasma samples from ICU patients that had been spiked with voriconazole at concentrations of 1.5 mg/liter, 2.9 mg/liter, and 9.0 mg/liter (66 samples from 22 patients). Plasma albumin concentrations ranged from 13.8 to 38.7 g/liter. Total voriconazole concentrations in adult ICU patients treated with voriconazole ranged from 0.5 to 8.7 mg/liter. Unbound and bound voriconazole concentrations were separated using high-throughput equilibrium dialysis followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS). Multivariate analysis revealed a positive relationship between voriconazole plasma protein binding and plasma albumin concentrations (P < 0.001), indicating higher unbound voriconazole concentrations with decreasing albumin concentrations. The correlation is more pronounced in the presence of elevated bilirubin concentrations (P = 0.05). We therefore propose to adjust the measured total voriconazole concentrations in patients with abnormal plasma albumin and total serum bilirubin plasma concentrations who show adverse events potentially related to voriconazole via a formula that we developed. Assuming 50% protein binding on average and an upper limit of 5.5 mg/liter for total voriconazole concentrations, the upper limit for unbound voriconazole concentrations is 2.75 mg/liter. Alterations in voriconazole unbound concentrations caused by hypoalbuminemia and/or elevated bilirubin plasma concentrations cannot be countered immediately, due to the adult saturated hepatic metabolism. Consequently, increased unbound voriconazole concentrations can possibly cause adverse events, even when total voriconazole concentrations are within the reference range.