PEGylation does not significantly change the initial intravenous or subcutaneous pharmacokinetics or lymphatic exposure of trastuzumab in rats but increases plasma clearance after subcutaneous administration

Linda Jiaying Chan, Jurgen Bernd Bulitta, David B Ascher, John Michael Haynes, Victoria Mary McLeod, Christopher John Porter, Charlotte Claire Williams, Lisa Michelle Kaminskas

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The lymphatic system plays a major role in the metastatic dissemination of cancer and has an integral role in immunity. PEGylation enhances drainage and lymphatic uptake following subcutaneous (sc) administration of proteins and protein-like polymers, but the impact of PEGylation of very large proteins (such as antibodies) on subcutaneous and lymphatic pharmacokinetics is unknown. This study therefore aimed to evaluate the impact of PEGylation on the sc absorption and lymphatic disposition of the anti-HER2 antibody trastuzumab in rats. PEG-trastuzumab was generated via the conjugation of a single 40 kDa PEG-NHS ester to trastuzumab. PEG-trastuzumab showed a 5-fold reduction in HER2 binding affinity, however the in vitro growth inhibitory effects were preserved as a result of changes in cellular trafficking when compared to native trastuzumab. The lymphatic pharmacokinetics of PEG-trastuzumab was evaluated in thoracic lymph duct cannulated rats after iv and sc administration and compared to the pharmacokinetics of native trastuzumab. The iv pharmacokinetics and lymphatic exposure of PEG-trastuzumab was similar when compared to trastuzumab. After sc administration, initial plasma pharmacokinetics and lymphatic exposure were also similar between PEG-trastuzumab and trastuzumab, but the absolute bioavailability of PEG-trastuzumab was 100% when compared to 86.1% bioavailability for trastuzumab. In contrast to trastuzumab, PEG-trastuzumab showed accelerated plasma clearance beginning approximately 7 days after sc, but not iv, administration, presumably as a result of the generation of anti-PEG IgM. This work suggests that PEGylation does not significantly alter the lymphatic disposition of very large proteins, and further suggests that it is unlikely to benefit therapy with monoclonal antibodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794 - 809
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • HER2
  • lymphatic
  • monoclonal antibody
  • PEGylation
  • pharmacokinetics
  • population modeling
  • trastuzumab

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