Pre- and Postnatal Maturation are Important for Fentanyl Exposure in Preterm and Term Newborns: A Pooled Population Pharmacokinetic Study

Yunjiao Wu, Swantje Völler, Robert B Flint, Sinno H P Simons, Karel Allegaert, Vineta Fellman, Catherijne A J Knibbe

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Fentanyl is an opioid commonly used to prevent and treat severe pain in neonates; however, its use is off label and mostly based on bodyweight. Given the limited pharmacokinetic information across the entire neonatal age range, we characterized the pharmacokinetics of fentanyl across preterm and term neonates to individualize dosing.

METHODS: We pooled data from two previous studies on 164 newborns with a median gestational age of 29.0 weeks (range 23.9-42.3), birthweight of 1055 g (range 390-4245), and postnatal age (PNA) of 1 day (range 0-68). In total, 673 plasma samples upon bolus dosing (69 patients; median dose 2.1 μg/kg, median 2 boluses per patient) or continuous infusions (95 patients; median dose 1.1 μg/kg/h for 30 h) with and without boluses were used for population pharmacokinetic modeling in NONMEM® 7.4.

RESULTS: Clearance in neonates with birthweight of 2000 and 3000 g was 2.8- and 5.0-fold the clearance in a neonate with birthweight of 1000 g, respectively. Fentanyl clearance at PNA of 7, 14, and 21 days was 2.7-fold, 3.8-fold, and 4.6-fold the clearance at 1 day, respectively. Bodyweight-based dosing resulted in large differences in fentanyl concentrations. Depending on PNA and birthweight, fentanyl concentrations increased slowly after the start of therapy for both intermittent boluses and continuous infusion and reached a maximum concentration at 12-48 h.

CONCLUSIONS: As both prenatal and postnatal maturation are important for fentanyl exposure, we propose a birthweight- and PNA-based dosage regimen. To provide rapid analgesia in the first 24 h of treatment, additional loading doses need to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-412
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Pharmacokinetics
Issue number3
Early online date13 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The DINO study and all accompanying research were funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development ZonMw (Grant number 836011022). Yunjiao Wu is funded by the China Scholarship Council (Grant number 201907060018).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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