Hyperinflammation Reduces Midazolam Metabolism in Critically Ill Adults with COVID-19

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Background and Objective: Many patients treated for COVID-19 related acute respiratory distress syndrome in the intensive care unit are sedated with the benzodiazepine midazolam. Midazolam undergoes extensive metabolism by CYP3A enzymes, which may be inhibited by hyperinflammation. Therefore, an exaggerated proinflammatory response, as often observed in COVID-19, may decrease midazolam clearance. To develop a population pharmacokinetic model for midazolam in adult intensive care unit patients infected with COVID-19 and to assess the effect of inflammation, reflected by IL-6, on the pharmacokinetics of midazolam. Methods: Midazolam blood samples were collected once a week between March 31 and April 30 2020. Patients were excluded if they concomitantly received CYP3A4 inhibitors, CYP3A4 inducers and/or continuous renal replacement therapy. Midazolam and metabolites were analyzed with an ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method. A population pharmacokinetic model was developed, using nonlinear mixed effects modelling. IL-6 and CRP, markers of inflammation, were analyzed as covariates. Results: The data were described by a one-compartment model for midazolam and the metabolites 1-OH-midazolam and 1-OH-midazolam-glucuronide. The population mean estimate for midazolam clearance was 6.7 L/h (4.8–8.5 L/h). Midazolam clearance was reduced by increased IL-6 and IL-6 explained more of the variability within our patients than CRP. The midazolam clearance was reduced by 24% (6.7–5.1 L/h) when IL-6 increases from population median 116 to 300 pg/mL. Conclusions: Inflammation, reflected by high IL-6, reduces midazolam clearance in critically ill patients with COVID-19. This knowledge may help avoid oversedation, but further research is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-983
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Pharmacokinetics
Issue number7
Early online date10 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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