British Journal of Anaesthesia vol:95 issue:2 pages:231-9
BACKGROUND: Tramadol is potentially a very useful pain relief medication in neonates and infants. It is primarily metabolized into O-demethyl tramadol (M1) by CYP2D6. Data concerning tramadol disposition and CYP2D6 activity in young infants are not available. METHODS: A population pharmacokinetic analysis of tramadol and M1 time-concentration profiles was undertaken using non-linear mixed-effects models (NONMEM), based on newly collected data on tramadol and M1 time-concentration profiles in neonates and young infants (n=20) and published studies on intravenous tramadol in children and adults. M1 formation served as a surrogate for CYP2D6 activity. RESULTS: Tramadol clearance was described using a two-compartment linear model with zero-order input and first-order elimination. Clearance increased from 25 weeks post-conception age (PCA) (5.52 litre h(-1) [70 kg](-1)) to reach 84% of the mature value by 44 weeks PCA (standardized to a 70 kg adult using allometric '1/4 power' models). The central volume of distribution decreased from 25 weeks PCA (256 litre [70 kg](-1)) to reach 120% of its mature value by 87 weeks PCA. Formation clearance to M1 contributed 43% of tramadol clearance, but had no relationship with PCA. There was a weak non-linear relationship between PCA and M1 metabolite clearance. CONCLUSIONS: Maturational clearance of tramadol is almost complete by 44 weeks PCA. A target concentration of 300 microg litre(-1) is achieved after a bolus of tramadol hydrochloride 1 mg kg(-1) and can be maintained by infusion of tramadol hydrochloride 0.09 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 25 weeks PCA, 0.14 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 30 weeks PCA, 0.17 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 35 weeks PCA, 0.18 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 40 weeks, 0.19 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 50 weeks PCA to 1 yr, 0.18 mg kg(-1) h(-1) at 3 yr and 0.12 mg kg(-1) h(-1) in adulthood. CYP2D6 activity was observed as early as 25 weeks PCA, but the impact of CYP2D6 polymorphism on the variability in pharmacokinetics, metabolism and pharmacodynamics of tramadol remains to be established.