The pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and lumefantrine in Malaysian patients with Plasmodium knowlesi malaria

Sri Riyati Sugiarto, Balbir Singh, Madhu Page-Sharp, Wendy A. Davis, Sam Salman, King Ching Hii, Timothy M.E. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: The aim of this study was to assess the pharmacokinetic properties of artemether, lumefantrine and their active metabolites in Plasmodium knowlesi malaria. Methods: Malaysian adults presenting with uncomplicated P. knowlesi infections received six doses of artemether (1.7 mg/kg) plus lumefantrine (10 mg/kg) over 3 days. Venous blood and dried blood spot (DBS) samples were taken at predetermined time-points over 28 days. Plasma and DBS artemether, dihydroartemisinin, lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine were measured using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Multi-compartmental population pharmacokinetic models were developed using plasma with or without DBS drug concentrations. Results: Forty-one participants (mean age 45 years, 66% males) were recruited. Artemether-lumefantrine treatment was well tolerated and parasite clearance was prompt. Plasma and DBS lumefantrine concentrations were in close agreement and were used together in pharmacokinetic modelling, but only plasma concentrations of the other analytes were used because of poor correlation with DBS levels. The areas under the concentration–time curve (AUC0–∞) for artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine (medians 1626, 1881 and 625 098 μg.h/L, respectively) were similar to those reported in previous pharmacokinetic studies in adults and children. There was evidence of auto-induction of artemether metabolism (mean increase in clearance relative to bioavailability 25.2% for each subsequent dose). The lumefantrine terminal elimination half-life (median 9.5 days) was longer than reported in healthy volunteers and adults with falciparum malaria. Conclusion: The disposition of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine in knowlesi malaria largely parallels that in other human malarias. DBS lumefantrine concentrations can be used in pharmacokinetic studies but DBS technology is currently unreliable for the other analytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-701
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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