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Frymoyer A, Van Meurs KP, Drover DR, Klawitter J, Christians U, Chock VY. Theophylline dosing and pharmacokinetics for renal protection in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy undergoing therapeutic hypothermia [published online ahead of print, 2020 Sep 12]. Pediatr Res. 2020;10.1038/s41390-020-01140-8. doi:10.1038/s41390-020-01140-8

Background: Theophylline, a non-selective adenosine receptor antagonist, improves renal perfusion in the setting of hypoxia-ischemia and may offer therapeutic benefit in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) undergoing hypothermia. We evaluated the pharmacokinetics and dose-exposure relationships of theophylline in this population to guide dosing strategies.

Methods: A population pharmacokinetic analysis was performed in 22 neonates with HIE undergoing hypothermia who were part of a prospective study or retrospective chart review. Aminophylline (intravenous salt form of theophylline) was given per institutional standard of care for low urine output and/or rising serum creatinine (5 mg/kg intravenous (i.v.) load then 1.8 mg/kg i.v. q6h). The ability of different dosing regimens to achieve target concentrations (4-10 mg/L) associated with clinical response was examined.

Results: Birth weight was a significant predictor of theophylline clearance and volume of distribution (p < 0.05). The median half-life was 39.5 h (range 27.2-50.4). An aminophylline loading dose of 7 mg/kg followed by 1.6 mg/kg q12h was predicted to achieve target concentrations in 84% of simulated neonates.

Conclusions: In neonates with HIE undergoing hypothermia, theophylline clearance was low with a 50% longer half-life compared to full-term normothermic neonates without HIE. Dosing strategies need to consider the unique pharmacokinetic needs of this population.

Impact: Theophylline is a potential renal-protective therapy in neonates with HIE undergoing therapeutic hypothermia; however, the pharmacokinetics and dose needs in this population are not known. Theophylline clearance was low in neonates with HIE undergoing therapeutic hypothermia with a 50% longer half-life compared to full-term normothermic neonates without HIE. As theophylline is advanced in clinical development, dosing strategies will need to consider the unique pharmacokinetic needs of neonates with HIE undergoing therapeutic hypothermia.

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