Application of microdialysis in pharmacokinetic studies

William F. Elmquist, Ronald J. Sawchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


The objective of this review is to survey the recent literature regarding the various applications of microdialysis in pharmacokinetics. Microdialysis is a relatively new technique for sampling tissue extracellular fluid that is gaining popularity in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, both in experimental animals and humans. The first part of this review discusses various aspects of the technique with regard to its use in pharmacokinetic studies, such as: quantitation of the microdialysis probe relative recovery, interfacing the sampling technique with analytical instrumentation, and consideration of repeated procedures using: the microdialysis probe. The remainder of the review is devoted to a survey of the recent literature concerning pharmacokinetic studies that apply the microdialysis sampling technique. While the majority of the pharmacokinetic studies that have utilized microdialysis have been done in the central nervous system, a growing number of applications are being found in a variety of peripheral tissue types, e.g. skin, muscle, adipose, eye, lung, liver, and blood, and these are considered as well. Given the rising interest in this technique, and the ongoing attempts to adapt it to pharmacokinetic studies, it is clear that microdialysis sampling will have an important place in studying drug disposition and metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-288
Number of pages22
JournalPharmaceutical research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Drug distribution
  • Extracellular fluid
  • Microdialysis sampling
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Probe recovery


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