Heterogeneity of human adipose blood flow

David G. Levitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: The long time pharmacokinetics of highly lipid soluble compounds is dominated by blood-adipose tissue exchange and depends on the magnitude and heterogeneity of adipose blood flow. Because the adipose tissue is an infinite sink at short times (hours), the kinetics must be followed for days in order to determine if the adipose perfusion is heterogeneous. The purpose of this paper is to quantitate human adipose blood flow heterogeneity and determine its importance for human pharmacokinetics. Methods: The heterogeneity was determined using a physiologically based pharmacokinetic model (PBPK) to describe the 6 day volatile anesthetic data previously published by Yasuda et. al. The analysis uses the freely available software PKQuest and incorporates perfusion-ventilation mismatch and time dependent parameters that varied from the anesthetized to the ambulatory period. This heterogeneous adipose perfusion PBPK model was then tested by applying it to the previously published cannabidiol data of Ohlsson et. al. and the cannabinol data of Johansson et. al. Results: The volatile anesthetic kinetics at early times have only a weak dependence on adipose blood flow while at long times the pharmacokinetics are dominated by the adipose flow and are independent of muscle blood flow. At least 2 adipose compartments with different perfusion rates (0.074 and 0.014 l/kg/min) were needed to describe the anesthetic data. This heterogeneous adipose PBPK model also provided a good fit to the cannabinol data. Conclusion: Human adipose blood flow is markedly heterogeneous, varying by at least 5 fold. This heterogeneity significantly influences the long time pharmacokinetics of the volatile anesthetics and tetrahydrocannabinol. In contrast, using this same PBPK model it can be shown that the long time pharmacokinetics of the persistent lipophilic compounds (dioxins, PCBs) do not depend on adipose blood flow. The ability of the same PBPK model to describe both the anesthetic and cannabinol kinetics provides direct qualitative evidence that their kinetics are flow limited and that there is no significant adipose tissue diffusion limitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalBMC Clinical Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2007


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