Physiologically based modelling of the pharmacokinetics of three beta-lactam antibiotics after intra-mammary administration in dairy cows

Andrew P. Woodward, Ted Whittem

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the pharmacokinetics of intra-mammary antibiotics is important for the prediction of drug residues in milk and for the design of optimal dosage regimens. Unfortunately, compartmental pharmacokinetic models are not valid for this unique system. A minimal physiologically based pharmacokinetic model is presented incorporating the physiology of milk secretion, drug administration at the quarter level, drug absorption and dispersion, drug retention during the inter-milking interval and episodic drug elimination at milking. The primary objective of the study was the development and exploration of a model for major factors controlling drug concentration in milk, rather than generation of rigorously predictive pharmaco-statistical models for any particular drug. This model was implemented in a two-stage approach, using published concentration data for penicillin, cefuroxime, cephapirin and desacetyl-cephapirin in milk of healthy cows. Model simulations evaluated sensitivity and developed predictions of drug residues. The model successfully predicted both drug concentrations and drug residues in milk. The postmilking residual milk volume did not adequately explain antibiotic pharmacokinetics, requiring additional considerations for drug retention. Local sensitivity analysis indicated that increasing the number of quarters treated, the dosage, or the duration of the inter-milking interval prolonged both the persistence of drug residues and the duration that antibiotic concentration exceeded typical minimum inhibitory concentrations. The model was flexible across different beta-lactam drugs as a general description of intra-mammary pharmacokinetics. This model is suitable for the design and analysis of dosage regimens, and could be applied for the prediction of withholding periods when these antibiotic preparations are used off-label. The final model indicates that explicit consideration of the milking regimen is fundamental to the design and interpretation of pharmacokinetic studies of antibiotics in bovine milk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-706
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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