Betamethasone pharmacokinetics after two prodrug formulations in sheep: Implications for antenatal corticosteroid use

Mahesh N. Samtani, Matthias L. Löhle, Angela Grant, Peter W. Nathanielsz, William J. Jusko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Maternal administration of betamethasone to enhance fetal lung maturation for women who threaten preterm labor is common clinical practice. However, recommendations regarding the choice of betamethasone formulations for perinatal use are vague. The disposition of betamethasone from two commonly used antenatal formulations is poorly understood. We therefore designed a study to capture the true pharmacokinetic profiles of betamethasone from these fast acting and dual-release formulations. Betamethasone in sheep plasma was measured by a newly designed, highly sensitive liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry assay after intramuscular injection (n = 4) of 0.25 mg/kg betamethasone phosphate and 0.5 mg/kg betamethasone phosphate/acetate formulations. Compartmental modeling was performed using the ADAPT II program. Betamethasone pharmacokinetics could be captured for 24 h for the phosphate and for 5 days for the phosphate/acetate formulations. The phosphate formulation profile had the appearance of a traditional Bateman function with a terminal half-life of 4 h, whereas the phosphate/acetate formulation produced a biexponential decline with a terminal half-life of 14 h. The latter is much longer than is commonly reported and has been missed in the literature due to assay limitations. Extrapolations to humans indicate that although both formulations might have similar therapeutic indices, the dual formulation might be associated with a lower safety profile. In light of this newly identified long terminal half-life for the betamethasone dual formulation, dosing practices for betamethasone in pregnancy need to be reassessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1130
Number of pages7
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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