The relationship between the pharmacokinetics of ibuprofen enantiomers and the dose of racemic ibuprofen in humans

Allan M. Evans, Roger L. Nation, Lloyd N. Sansom, Felix Bochner, Andrew A. Somogyi

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Ibuprofen is a chiral drug which is used clinically as a racemate. The pharmacological properties of ibuprofen reside almost exclusively with the S(+)‐enantiomer. However, a portion of R(−)‐ibuprofen is metabolically inverted to its pharmacologically active, mirror‐image form. To investigate the influence of increasing dose of racemic ibuprofen on the pharmacokinetics of its individual enantiomers, four healthy male volunteers were given racemic ibuprofen (200, 400, 800, and 1200 mg), orally, on four occasions. The study was conducted using a balanced cross‐over design. The extent of absorption of ibuprofen, as assessed by the total urinary recovery of ibuprofen and its metabolites, was extensive and independent of the administered dose. At all four doses, the area under the total and unbound plasma concentration‐time curves (AUC and AUCu, respectively), and the unbound fraction in plasma, were significantly greater for the S(+)‐enantiomer. With increasing ibuprofen dose, there was a less than proportional increase in the AUC of each enantiomer, while the AUCu for both enantiomers increased in direct proportion to the administered dose. The time‐averaged unbound fraction of each enantiomer increased significantly with increasing dose, which caused the non‐linearity between AUC and dose. It was predicted that the metabolic intrinsic clearance of each enantiomer, and the fraction of R(−)‐ibuprofen which was metabolically inverted to S(+)‐ibuprofen, was independent of the administered dose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-518
Number of pages12
JournalBiopharmaceutics & Drug Disposition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990


  • Dose‐ranging
  • Enantiomers
  • Enantioselectivity
  • Ibuprofen
  • Pharmacokinetics

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