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Ogutu, BR, Newton CR, Muchohi SN, Otieno GO, Kokwaro GO.  2012.  Phenytoin pharmacokinetics and clinical effects in African children following fosphenytoin and chloramphenicol coadministration. Abstract

Some children with malaria and convulsions also have concurrent bacterial meningitis. Chloramphenicol is used to treat the latter whereas phenytoin is used for convulsions. Since chloramphenicol inhibits the metabolism of phenytoin in vivo, we studied the effects of chloramphenicol on phenytoin pharmacokinetics in children with malaria. METHODS: Multiple intravenous (i.v.) doses of chloramphenicol succinate (CAP) (25 mg kg-1 6 hourly for 72 h) and a single intramuscular (i.m.) seizure prophylactic dose of fosphenytoin (18 mg kg-1 phenytoin sodium equivalents) were concomitantly administered to 15 African children with malaria. Control children (n = 13) with malaria received a similar dose of fosphenytoin and multiple i.v. doses (25 mg kg-1 8 hourly for 72 h) of cefotaxime (CEF). Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, level of consciousness and convulsion episodes were monitored. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma phenytoin concentrations were determined. RESULTS: The area under the plasma unbound phenytoin concentration-time curve (AUC(0, infinity ); means (CAP, CEF): 58.5, 47.6 micro g ml-1 h; 95% CI for difference between means: -35.0, 11.4), the peak unbound phenytoin concentrations (Cmax; medians: 1.12, 1.29 micro g ml-1; 95% CI: -0.5, 0.04), the times to Cmax (tmax; medians: 4.0, 4.0 h; 95% CI: -2.0, 3.7), the CSF:plasma phenytoin ratios (means: 0.21, 0.22; 95% CI: -0.8, 0.10), the fraction of phenytoin unbound (means: 0.06, 0.09; 95% CI: -0.01, 0.07) and the cardiovascular parameters were not significantly different between CAP and CEF groups. However, mean terminal elimination half-life (t1/2,z) was significantly longer (23.7, 15.5 h; 95% CI: 1.71, 14.98) in the CAP group compared with the CEF group. Seventy per cent of the children had no convulsions during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: Concomitant administration of chloramphenicol and a single i.m. dose of fosphenytoin alters the t1/2,z but not the other pharmacokinetic parameters or clinical effects of phenytoin in African children with severe malaria. Moreover, a single i.m. dose of fosphenytoin provides anticonvulsant prophylaxis in the majority of the children over 72 h. However, a larger study would be needed to investigate the effect of concomitant administration of multiple doses of the two drugs in this population of patients.


  2011.  A phase I trial to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of low-dose methotrexate as an anti-malarial drug in Kenyan adult healthy volunteers.. Malar J. . Abstract


Previous investigations indicate that methotrexate, an old anticancer drug, could be used at low doses to treat malaria. A phase I evaluation was conducted to assess the safety and pharmacokinetic profile of this drug in healthy adult male Kenyan volunteers.

Twenty five healthy adult volunteers were recruited and admitted to receive a 5 mg dose of methotrexate/day/5 days. Pharmacokinetics blood sampling was carried out at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 24 hours following each dose. Nausea, vomiting, oral ulcers and other adverse events were solicited during follow up of 42 days.

The mean age of participants was 23.9 ± 3.3 years. Adherence to protocol was 100%. No grade 3 solicited adverse events were observed. However, one case of transiently elevated liver enzymes, and one serious adverse event (not related to the product) were reported. The maximum concentration (C(max)) was 160-200 nM and after 6 hours, the effective concentration (C(eff)) was <150 nM.

Low-dose methotraxate had an acceptable safety profile. However, methotrexate blood levels did not reach the desirable C(eff) of 250-400-nM required to clear malaria infection in vivo. Further dose finding and safety studies are necessary to confirm suitability of this drug as an anti-malarial agent.

  2011.  Dosing regimens of oral ciprofloxacin for children with severe malnutrition: a population pharmacokinetic study with Monte Carlo simulation.. J Antimicrob Chemother. . Abstract


Severe malnutrition is frequently complicated by sepsis, leading to high case fatality. Oral ciprofloxacin is a potential alternative to the standard parenteral ampicillin/gentamicin combination, but its pharmacokinetics in malnourished children is unknown.

Ciprofloxacin (10 mg/kg, 12 hourly) was administered either 2 h before or up to 2 h after feeds to Kenyan children hospitalized with severe malnutrition. Four plasma ciprofloxacin concentrations were measured over 24 h. Population analysis with NONMEM investigated factors affecting the oral clearance (CL) and the oral volume of distribution (V). Monte Carlo simulations investigated dosage regimens to achieve a target AUC(0-24)/MIC ratio of ≥125.

Data comprised 202 ciprofloxacin concentration measurements from 52 children aged 8-102 months. Absorption was generally rapid but variable; C(max) ranged from 0.6 to 4.5 mg/L. Data were fitted by a one-compartment model with first-order absorption and lag. The parameters were CL (L/h) = 42.7 (L/h/70 kg) × [weight (kg)/70](0.75) × [1 + 0.0368 (Na(+) - 136)] × [1 - 0.283 (high risk)] and V (L) = 372 × (L/70 kg) × [1 + 0.0291 (Na(+) - 136)]. Estimates of AUC(0-24) ranged from 8 to 61 mg·h/L. The breakpoint for Gram-negative organisms was <0.06 mg/L with doses of 20 mg/kg/day and <0.125 mg/L with doses of 30 or 45 mg/kg/day. The cumulative fraction of response with 30 mg/kg/day was ≥80% for Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella species, but <60% for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

An oral ciprofloxacin dose of 10 mg/kg three times daily (30 mg/kg/day) may be a suitable alternative antibiotic for the management of sepsis in severely malnourished children. Absorption was unaffected by the simultaneous administration of feeds.

Chilengi R, Juma R, AAMBLNASMWJMHPE.  2011.  A phase I trial to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of low-dose methotrexate as an anti-malarial drug in Kenyan adult healthy volunteers.. Malar J. . Abstract

Previous investigations indicate that methotrexate, an old anticancer drug, could be used at low doses to treat malaria. A phase I evaluation was conducted to assess the safety and pharmacokinetic profile of this drug in healthy adult male Kenyan volunteers.

Twenty five healthy adult volunteers were recruited and admitted to receive a 5 mg dose of methotrexate/day/5 days. Pharmacokinetics blood sampling was carried out at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 24 hours following each dose. Nausea, vomiting, oral ulcers and other adverse events were solicited during follow up of 42 days.

The mean age of participants was 23.9 ± 3.3 years. Adherence to protocol was 100%. No grade 3 solicited adverse events were observed. However, one case of transiently elevated liver enzymes, and one serious adverse event (not related to the product) were reported. The maximum concentration (C(max)) was 160-200 nM and after 6 hours, the effective concentration (C(eff)) was <150 nM.

Low-dose methotraxate had an acceptable safety profile. However, methotrexate blood levels did not reach the desirable C(eff) of 250-400-nM required to clear malaria infection in vivo. Further dose finding and safety studies are necessary to confirm suitability of this drug as an anti-malarial agent.


Kokwaro, G, Ogutu BR, Muchohi SN, Otieno GO, Newton CR.  2010.  Pharmacokinetics and clinical effect of phenobarbital in children with severe falciparum malaria and convulsions. Abstractpharmacokinetics_and_clinical_effect_of_phenobarbital_in_children_with.pdf

Phenobarbital is commonly used to treat status epilepticus in resource-poor countries. Although a dose of 20 mg kg(-1) is recommended, this dose, administered intramuscularly (i.m.) for prophylaxis, is associated with an increase in mortality in children with cerebral malaria. We evaluated a 15-mg kg(-1) intravenous (i.v.) dose of phenobarbital to determine its pharmacokinetics and clinical effects in children with severe falciparum malaria and status epilepticus. Methods: Twelve children (M/F: 11/1), aged 7-62 months, received a loading dose of phenobarbital (15 mg kg(-1)) as an i.v. infusion over 20 min and maintenance dose of 5 mg kg(-1) at 24 and 48 h later. The duration of convulsions and their recurrence were recorded. Vital signs were monitored. Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) phenobarbital concentrations were measured with an Abbott TDx FLx fluorescence polarisation immunoassay analyser (Abbott Laboratories, Diagnostic Division, Abbott Park, IL, USA). Simulations were performed to predict the optimum dosage regimen that would maintain plasma phenobarbital concentrations between 15 and 20 mg l(-1) for 72 h. Results: All the children achieved plasma concentrations above 15 mg l(-1) by the end of the infusion. Mean (95% confidence interval or median and range for Cmax) pharmacokinetic parameters were: area under curve [AUC (0, infinity)]: 4259 (3169, 5448) mg l(-1).h, t(1/2): 82.9 (62, 103) h, CL: 5.8 (4.4, 7.3) ml kg(-1) h(-1), Vss: 0.8 (0.7, 0.9) l kg (-1), CSF: plasma phenobarbital concentration ratio: 0.7 (0.5, 0.8; n= 6) and Cmax: 19.9 (17.9-27.9) mg l(-1). Eight of the children had their convulsions controlled and none of them had recurrence of convulsions. Simulations suggested that a loading dose of 15 mg kg(-1) followed by two maintenance doses of 2.5 mg kg(-1) at 24 h and 48 h would maintain plasma phenobarbital concentrations between 16.4 and 20 mg l(-1) for 72 h. Conclution:Phenobarbital, given as an i.v. loading dose, 15 mg kg(-1), achieves maximum plasma concentrations of greater than 15 mg l(-1) with good clinical effect and no significant adverse events in children with severe falciparum malaria. A maintenance dose of 2.5 mg kg(-1) at 24 h and 48 h was predicted to be sufficient to maintain concentrations of 15-20 mg l(-1) for 72 h, and may be a suitable regimen for treatment of convulsions in these children

  2010.  Pentoxifylline as an adjunct therapy in children with cerebral malaria.. Malar J.. Abstract


Pentoxifylline (PTX) affects many processes that may contribute to the pathogenesis of severe malaria and it has been shown to reduce the duration of coma in children with cerebral malaria. This pilot study was performed to assess pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy of PTX in African children with cerebral malaria.

Ten children admitted to the high dependency unit of the Kilifi District Hospital in Kenya with cerebral malaria (Blantyre coma score of 2 or less) received quinine plus a continuous infusion of 10 mg/kg/24 hours PTX for 72 hours. Five children were recruited as controls and received normal saline instead of PTX. Plasma samples were taken for PTX and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) levels. Blantyre Coma Score, parasitemia, hematology and vital signs were assessed 4 hourly.

One child (20%) in the control group died, compared to four children (40%) in the PTX group. This difference was not significant (p = 0.60). Laboratory parameters and clinical data were comparable between groups. TNF levels were lower in children receiving PTX.

The small sample size does not permit definitive conclusions, but the mortality rate was unexpectedly high in the PTX group.


Sixsmith, DG, Watkins WM, Kokwaro GO.  2009.  The stability of adrenaline ophthalmic solutions on sterilization and storage. Abstract

The stability of adrenaline ophthalmic solutions, at pH 5.8 and 7.4, to sterilization and storage conditions has been studied. Solutions sterilized by filtration or heating at 98 degrees C for 30 min showed no detectable degradation at either pH value, whilst sterilization at higher temperatures resulted in losses of up to 30%. Total degradation increased with increasing sterilization temperature at both pH values


Muchohi, SN, Obiero K, Newton CR, Ogutu BR, Edwards G, Kokwaro GO.  2008.  Pharmacokinetics and clinical efficacy of lorazepam in children with severe malaria and convulsions. Abstract

To investigate the pharmacokinetics and clinical efficacy of intravenous (i.v.) and intramuscular (i.m.) lorazepam (LZP) in children with severe malaria and convulsions. METHODS: Twenty-six children with severe malaria and convulsions lasting > or =5 min were studied. Fifteen children were given a single dose (0.1 mg kg(-1)) of i.v. LZP and 11 received a similar i.m. dose. Blood samples were collected over 72 h for determination of plasma LZP concentrations. Plasma LZP concentration-time data were fitted using compartmental models. RESULTS: Median [95% confidence interval (CI)] LZP concentrations of 65.1 ng ml(-1) (50.2, 107.0) and 41.4 ng ml(-1) (22.0, 103.0) were attained within median (95% CI) times of 30 min (10, 40) and 25 min (20, 60) following i.v. and i.m. administration, respectively. Concentrations were maintained above the reported therapeutic concentration (30 ng ml(-1)) for at least 8 h after dosing via either route. The relative bioavailability of i.m. LZP was 89%. A single dose of LZP was effective for rapid termination of convulsions in all children and prevention of seizure recurrence for >72 h in 11 of 15 children (73%, i.v.) and 10 of 11 children (91%, i.m), without any clinically apparent respiratory depression or hypotension. Three children (12%) died. CONCLUSION: Administration of LZP (0.1 mg kg(-1)) resulted in rapid achievement of plasma LZP concentrations within the reported effective therapeutic range without significant cardiorespiratory effects. I.m administration of LZP may be more practical in rural healthcare facilities in Africa, where venous access may not be feasible.

Ikumi, ML, Muchohi SN, Kokwaro GO, Newton CR.  2008.  Response to diazepam in children with malaria-induced seizures. Abstract

Malaria infection reduces the binding capacity of benzodiazepine receptors in mice. We studied the efficacy of diazepam terminating seizures in children with falciparum malaria. Diazepam stopped seizures in fewer patients with malaria parasitaemia (chi(2)=3.93, P=0.047) and those with clinical diagnosis of malaria (chi(2)=9.84, P=0.002) compared to those without. However malaria was not identified as an independent risk factor for diazepam's failure to stop seizures in children.

Whitworth, JA, Kokwaro G, Kinyanjui S, Snewin VA, Tanner M, Walport M, Sewankambo N.  2008.  Strengthening capacity for health research in Africa.


Ogutu, BR, Newton CR, Muchohi SN, Otieno GO, Edwards G, Watkins WM, Kokwaro GO.  2007.  Pharmacokinetics and clinical effects of phenytoin and fosphenytoin in children with severe malaria and status epilepticus. Abstract

Status epilepticus is common in children with severe falciparum malaria and is associated with poor outcome. Phenytoin is often used to control status epilepticus, but its water-soluble prodrug, fosphenytoin, may be more useful as it is easier to administer. We studied the pharmacokinetics and clinical effects of phenytoin and fosphenytoin sodium in children with severe falciparum malaria and status epilepticus. METHODS: Children received intravenous (i.v.) phenytoin as a 18 mg kg-1 loading dose infused over 20 min followed by a 2.5 mg x kg(-1) 12 hourly maintenance dose infused over 5 min (n = 11), or i.v. fosphenytoin, administered at a rate of 50 mg x min(-1) phenytoin sodium equivalents (PE; n = 16), or intramuscular (i.m.) fosphenytoin as a 18 mg x kg(-1) loading dose followed by 2.5 mg x kg(-1) 12 hourly of PE (n = 11). Concentrations of phenytoin in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), frequency of seizures, cardiovascular effects (respiratory rate, blood pressure, trancutaneous oxygen tension and level of consciousness) and middle cerebral artery (MCA) blood flow velocity were monitored. RESULTS: After all routes of administration, a plasma unbound phenytoin concentration of more than 1 microg x ml(-1) was rapidly (within 5-20 min) attained. Mean (95% confidence interval) steady state free phenytoin concentrations were 2.1 (1.7, 2.4; i.v. phenytoin, n = 6), 1.5 (0.96, 2.1; i.v. fosphenytoin, n = 11) and 1.4 (0.5, 2.4; i.m. fosphenytoin, n = 6), and were not statistically different for the three routes of administration. Median times (range) to peak plasma phenytoin concentrations following the loading dose were 0.08 (0.08-0.17), 0.37 (0.33-0.67) and 0.38 (0.17-2.0) h for i.v. fosphenytoin, i.v. phenytoin and i.m. fosphenytoin, respectively. CSF: plasma phenytoin concentration ratio ranged from 0.12 to 0.53 (median = 0.28, n = 16). Status epilepticus was controlled in only 36% (4/11) following i.v. phenytoin, 44% (7/16), following i.v. fosphenytoin and 64% (7/11) following i.m. fosphenytoin administration, respectively. Cardiovascular parameters and MCA blood flow were not affected by phenytoin administration. CONCLUSIONS: Phenytoin and fosphenytoin administration at the currently recommended doses achieve plasma unbound phenytoin concentrations within the therapeutic range with few cardiovascular effects. Administration of fosphenytoin i.v. or i.m. offers a practical and convenient alternative to i.v. phenytoin. However, the inadequate control of status epilepticus despite rapid achievement of therapeutic unbound phenytoin concentrations warrants further investigation

Mberu, EK, Nzila AM, Nduati E, Ross A, Monks SM, Kokwaro GO, Watkins WM, Hopkins SC.  2007.  Plasmodium falciparum: in vitro activity of sulfadoxine and dapsone in field isolates from Kenya: point mutations in dihydropteroate synthase may not be the only determinants in sulfa resistance. Abstract

We have determined the relationship between point mutations in the gene that encodes the sulfa target, dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) and the chemosensitivity profile to sulfadoxine and dapsone in 67 isolates from Kilifi, Kenya. We assessed the presence of mutations at codons 436, 437, 540, 581, and 613 of dhps. The results showed that the dhps genotype had a strong influence on the sensitivity to sulfadoxine and dapsone, but that the correlation was far from perfect. Eleven isolates carried a wild-type dhps allele, but were resistant to sulfadoxine (IC(50) values >10 microg/ml), and 4/28 isolates were classed as sensitive to sulfadoxine (IC(50) values <10 microg/ml), but carried a triple mutant (436/437/613) allele of dhps. These data show that in low folate medium in vitro, the dhps genotype alone did not account completely for sulfadoxine or dapsone resistance; other factors such as the utilisation of exogenous folate must also be considered

Thomson, AH, Maitland K, Kokwaro G, Muchohi S, Ignas J, Seaton C.  2007.  Population pharmacokinetics of a single daily intramuscular dose of gentamicin in children with severe malnutrition. Abstract

The World Health Organization recommends that all children admitted with severe malnutrition should routinely receive parenteral ampicillin and gentamicin; despite this, mortality remains high. Since this population group is at risk of altered volume of distribution, we aimed to study the population pharmacokinetics of once daily gentamicin (7.5 mg/kg) in children with severe malnutrition and to evaluate clinical factors affecting pharmacokinetic parameters. Thirty-four children aged 0.5–10 years were studied. One hundred and thirty-two gentamicin concentrations (median of four per patient), drawn 0.4–24.6 h after administration of the intramuscular dose, were analysed. The data were fitted by a two-compartment model using the population package NONMEM®. Gentamicin was rapidly absorbed and all concentrations measured within the first 2 h after administration were > 8 mg/L (indicating that satisfactory peak concentrations were achieved). Ninety-eight percent of samples measured more than 20 h after the dose were < 1 mg/L. The best model included weight, and it was found that high base deficit, high creatinine concentration and low temperature (all markers of hypovolaemic shock) reduced clearance (CL/F). Weight influenced volume of the central (V1/F) and peripheral (V2/F) compartments, and high base deficit reduced V2/F and intercompartmental CL (Q/F). Interindividual variability in CL was 26%, in V1/F 33% and in V2/F and Q/F was 52%. Individual estimates of CL/F ranged from 0.02 to 0.16 (median 0.10) L/h/kg and those of Vss/F from 0.26 to 1.31 (median 0.67) L/kg. Initial half-lives had a median of 1.4 h and elimination half-lives and a median of 14.9 h. Excessive concentrations were observed in one patient who had signs of renal impairment and shock. Although a daily dose of 7.5 mg/kg achieves satisfactory gentamicin concentrations in the majority of patients, patients with renal impairment and shock may be at risk of accumulation with 24 hourly dosing. Further studies of gentamicin pharmacokinetics in this group are now needed to inform future international guideline recommendations.

Thomson, AH, Kokwaro GO, Muchohi SN, English M, Mohammed S, Edwards G.  2007.  Population pharmacokinetics of intramuscular gentamicin administered to young infants with suspected severe sepsis in Kenya. Abstract

To determine the population pharmacokinetics of intramuscular (i.m.) gentamicin in African infants with suspected severe sepsis. METHODS: Samples were withdrawn 1 h after a single i.m. injection of 8 mg x kg(-1) gentamicin and the next morning prior to any further dosing. Concentration-time data were analysed with the population pharmacokinetic package NONMEM. Data were fitted using a one-compartment model with a log-normal model for interindividual variability and an additive residual error model. The influence of a range of clinical characteristics was tested on the pharmacokinetics of intramuscular gentamicin and the effect of incorporating interindividual variability on bioavailability was examined. RESULTS: The data set comprised 107 patients and 203 concentrations. Peak concentrations ranged from 3.0 mg x L(-1) to 19.8 mg x L(-1) (median 10.6 mg x L(-1)) and 'next day' samples from 0#3 mg x L#-1# to 6#2 mg x L#-1## The best models were clearance/bioavailability #CL# #L x h#-1## = 0#0913 x weight #kg# x #age #days# + 1#/11)0#130 and volume of distribution/bioavailability #V# = 2.02 x #1 + 0.277 x #weight -3##. Therefore, an infant with the median weight of 3 kg and age 10 days would have a predicted CL of 0.274 L x h#-1# and V of 2.02 L. Interindividual variability in CL was 40% and in V was 42%. This model required a term for covariance between CL and V. When variability in bioavailability was introduced as an alternative model, interindividual variability in CL was 22%, in V 18% and in relative bioavailability 36%. CONCLUSIONS: Intramuscular administration of 8 mg x kg#-1# gentamicin daily to infants gives mean 1 h peak concentration of 10.6 mg x L#-1# and a trough concentration of less than 2 mg x L#-1#. Wide variability in the peak concentration may reflect variable absorption rate or bioavailability.

English, M, Mohammed S, Ross A, Ndirangu S, Kokwaro G, Shann F, Marsh K.  2007.  A randomised, controlled trial of once daily and multi-dose daily gentamicin in young Kenyan infants. Abstracta_randomised_controlled_trial_of_once_daily_and_multi-dose.pdf

To test the suitability of a simple once daily (OD) gentamicin regimen for use in young infants where routine therapeutic drug monitoring is not possible. METHODS: In an open, randomised, controlled trial, infants with suspected severe sepsis admitted to a Kenyan, rural district hospital received a novel, OD gentamicin regimen or routine multi-dose (MD) regimens. RESULTS: A total of 297 infants (over 40% < or =7 days) were randomised per protocol; 292 contributed at least some data for analysis of pharmacological endpoints. One hour after the first dose, 5% (7/136) and 28% (35/123) of infants in OD and MD arms respectively had plasma gentamicin concentrations <4 microg/ml (a surrogate of treatment inadequacy). Geometric mean gentamicin concentrations at this time were 9.0 microg/ml (95% CI 8.3 to 9.9) and 4.7 microg/ml (95% CI 4.2 to 5.3) respectively. By the fourth day, pre-dose concentrations > or =2 microg/ml (a surrogate of potential treatment toxicity) were found in 6% (5/89) and 24% (21/86) of infants respectively. Mortality was similar in both groups and clinically insignificant, although potential gentamicin induced renal toxicity was observed in <2% infants. CONCLUSIONS: A "two, four, six, eight" OD gentamicin regime, appropriate for premature infants and those in the first days and weeks of life, seems a suitable, safe prescribing guide in resource poor settings.


Glazier, AP, Kokwaro GO, Edwards G.  2005.  Possible isozyme-specific effects of experimental malaria infection with Plasmodium berghei on cytochrome P450 activity in rat liver microsomes. Abstract

We have investigated the effect of experimental malaria infection on rat cytochrome P450-mediated drug metabolism using ethoxyresorufin and metoprolol as probe compounds. Malaria infection caused a significant reduction in total intrinsic clearance of ethoxyresorufin in both low and high parasitaemia malaria compared with control (control 18.7 +/- 7.2; low parasitaemia 10.5 +/- 4.1; high parasitaemia 4.3 +/- 1.4 mL min-1). However, clearance of metoprolol was unchanged in malaria infection compared with control (control 2.7 +/- 1.2; malaria 4.0 +/- 1.7 mL min-1). The change in clearance of ethoxyresorufin was the result of a decrease in Vmax, with no apparent change in Km. There was no change in either Vmax or Km of metoprolol. These results indicate a possible isozyme-selective effect of experimental malaria.

Ogutu, BR, Nzila AM, Ochong E, Mithwani S, Wamola B, Olola CH, Lowe B, Kokwaro G, Marsh K, Newton CR.  2005.  The role of sequential administration of sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine following quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in children. Abstract

Sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) is often administered with quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria to shorten the course of quinine. The efficacy of SP alone in the treatment of non-severe malaria has been declining rapidly in East Africa, raising concerns of the usefulness of a shortened course of quinine followed SP. We audited the efficacy of quinine/SP in the treatment of severe malaria in Kenyan children. Children with severe falciparum malaria were treated with parenteral quinine followed by a single oral dose of SP. A clinical evaluation was performed 3 weeks later in which a blood sample was obtained for full haemogram, blood slide and analysis of the parasite dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) codons, mutations of which are associated with resistance to SP. A total of 452 children were enrolled, of whom 374 completed the study. Fifty-two (13.9%) children were parasitaemic by 3 weeks of whom 17 (4.5%) had fever as well. The treatment failure group had a significantly higher parasitaemia (129 061 vs. 43 339; P<0.001) and haemoglobin on admission, but only admission parasitaemia independently predicted treatment failure. Those with treatment failure had a significantly lower rise in haemoglobin at 3 weeks compared with treatment successes (9.0 vs. 10.0 g/dl). Of the 76 parasite isolates collected before treatment, 40 (53%) were triple mutant DHFR-double DHPS (Tp-Db), the genotype most associated with SP resistance. Three weeks after SP treatment, the proportion of Tp-Db increased to 72% (31/43). The high treatment failure rate and proportion of parasites with Tp-Db negate the use of SP to shorten the course of quinine treatment in East Africa

Nzila, A, Ochong E, Nduati E, Gilbert K, Winstanley P, Ward S, Marsh K.  2005.  Why has the dihydrofolate reductase 164 mutation not consistently been found in Africa yet? Abstract

Resistance to the antifolate sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP), the current mass-treatment antimalarial drug, is associated with selection of point mutations in dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase. Among these mutations, the leucine 164 dihydrofolate reductase mutation (Leu-164) is associated with higher levels of SP resistance; this mutation is also associated with a decrease in the efficacy of chlorproguanil/dapsone, a newly developed antifolate antimalarial drug. Leu-164 has been detected in Southeast Asia and South America, regions where SP is no longer effective. Surprisingly, this mutation has not yet been detected in Africa, using the standard protocol based on PCR–RFLP, despite high SP resistance. In this paper, we discuss briefly the reasons why Leu-164 has not yet been selected in Africa and we propose a means that may slow down the selection of this mutation.


Mithwani, S, Aarons L, Kokwaro GO, Majid O, Muchohi S, Edwards G, Mohamed S, Marsh K, Watkins W.  2004.  Population pharmacokinetics of artemether and dihydroartemisinin following single intramuscular dosing of artemether in African children with severe falciparum malaria. Abstract

To determine the population pharmacokinetics of artemether and dihydroartemisinin in African children with severe malaria and acidosis associated with respiratory distress following an intramuscular injection of artemether. METHODS: Following a single intramuscular (i.m.) injection of 3.2 mg kg-1 artemether, blood samples were withdrawn at various times over 24 h after the dose. Plasma was assayed for artemether and dihydroartemisinin by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The software program NONMEM was used to fit the concentration-time data and investigate the influence of a range of clinical characteristics (respiratory distress and metabolic acidosis, demographic features and disease) on the pharmacokinetics of artemether and dihydroartemisinin. RESULTS: A total of 100 children with a median age of 36.4 (range 5-108) months were recruited into the study and data from 90 of these children (30 with respiratory distress and 60 with no respiratory distress) were used in the population pharmacokinetic analysis. The best model to describe the disposition of artemether was a one-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination. The population estimate of clearance (clearance/bioavailability, CL/F) was 14.3 l h-1 with 53% intersubject variability and that of the terminal half-life was 18.5 h. If it was assumed that artemisin displays "flip-flop" kinetics, the elimination half-life was estimated to be 21 min and the corresponding volume of distribution was 8.44 l, with an intersubject variability of 104%. None of the covariates could be identified as having any influence on the disposition of artemether. The disposition of dihydroartemisinin was fitted separately using a one-compartment linear model in which the volume of distribution was fixed to the same value as that of artemether. Assuming that artemether is completely converted to dihydroartemisinin, the estimated value of CL/F for dihydroartemisinin was 93.5 l h-1, with an intersubject variability of 90.2%. The clearance of dihydroartemisinin was formation rate limited. CONCLUSIONS: Administration of a single 3.2 mg kg-1 i.m. dose of artemether to African children with severe malaria and acidosis is characterized by variable absorption kinetics, probably related to drug formulation characteristics rather than to pathophysiological factors. Use of i.m. artemether in such children needs to be reconsidered

Ommeh, S;, Nduati E;, Mberu E;, Kokwaro G;, Marsh K;, Rosowsky A;, Nzila A.  2004.  In vitro activities of 2,4-diaminoquinazoline and 2,4-diaminopteridine derivatives against Plasmodium falciparum. Abstract

The activities of 28 6-substituted 2,4-diaminoquinazolines, 2,4-diamino-5,6,7,8-tetrahydroquinazolines, and 2,4-diaminopteridines against Plasmodium falciparum were tested. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)s) of six compounds were <50 nM, and the most potent compound was 2,4-diamino-5-chloro-6-[N-(2,5-dimethoxybenzyl)amino]quinazoline (compound 1), with an IC(50) of 9 nM. The activity of compound 1 was potentiated by the dihydropteroate synthase inhibitor dapsone, an indication that these compounds are inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase. Further studies are warranted to assess the therapeutic potential of this combination in vivo

Rawden, HC, Kokwaro GO, Ward SA, Edwards G.  2004.  Relative contribution of cytochromes P-450 and flavin-containing monoxygenases to the metabolism of albendazole by human liver microsomes. Abstract

Albendazole (ABZ; methyl 5-propylthio-1H-benzimidazol-2-yl carbamate) is a broad spectrum anthelmintic whose activity resides both in the parent compound and its sulphoxide metabolite (ABS). There are numerous reports of ABZ metabolism in animals but relatively few in humans. We have investigated the sulphoxidation of ABZ in human liver microsomes and recombinant systems. METHODS: The specific enzymes involved in the sulphoxidation of ABZ were determined by a combination of approaches; inhibition with an antiserum directed against cytochrome P450 reductase, the effect of selective chemical inhibitors on ABZ sulphoxidation in human liver microsomes, the capability of expressed CYP and FMO to mediate the formation of ABS, regression analysis of the rate of metabolism of ABZ to ABS in human liver microsomes against selective P450 substrates and regression analysis of the rate of ABS sulphoxidation against CYP expression measured by Western blotting. RESULTS: Comparison of Vmax values obtained following heat inactivation (3min at 45 degrees C) of flavin monoxygenases (FMO), chemical inhibition of FMO with methimazole and addition of an antiserum directed against cytochrome P450 reductase indicate that FMO and CYP contribute approximately 30% and 70%, respectively, to ABS production in vitro. Comparison of CLint values suggests CYP is a major contributor in vivo. A significant reduction in ABZ sulphoxidation (n = 3) was seen with ketoconazole (CYP3 A4; 32-37%), ritonavir (CYP3 A4: 34-42%), methimazole (FMO: 28-49%) and thioacetamide (FMO; 32-35%). Additive inhibition with ketoconazole and methimazole was 69 +/- 8% (n = 3). ABS production in heat - treated microsomes (3 min at 45 degrees C) correlated significantly with testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation (CYP3A4; P < 0.05) and band intensities on Western blots probed with an antibody selective for 3A4 (P < 0.05). Recombinant human CYP3 A4, CYP1A2 and FMO3 produced ABS in greater quantities than control microsomes, with those expressing CYP3A4 producing threefold more ABS than those expressing CYP1A2. Kinetic studies showed the Km values obtained with both CYP3A4 and FMO3 were similar. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the production of ABS in human liver is mediated via both FMO and CYP, principally CYP3A4, with the CYP component being the major contributor.

Gitau, EN, Muchohi SN, Ogutu BR, Githiga IM, Kokwaro GO.  2004.  Selective and sensitive liquid chromatographic assay of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine in whole blood spotted on filter paper. Abstract

We have developed a sensitive, selective and reproducible reversed-phase HPLC method with ultraviolet detection (340 nm) for the simultaneous quantification of amodiaquine (AQ) and its major metabolite, desethylamodiaquine (AQm) in a small volume (200 microl) of whole blood spotted on filter paper. The method involves liquid-liquid extraction with diethyl ether followed by elution from a reversed-phase phenyl column with an acidic (pH 2.8) mobile phase (25 mM KH2PO4-methanol; 80:20% (v/v) +1% (v/v) triethylamine). Calibration curves in spiked whole blood were linear from 100-2500 ng/ml (r2 > or = 0.99) for AQ and 200-2500 ng/ml (r2 > or = 0.99) for AQm. The limit of detection was 5 ng for AQ and 10 ng for AQm. The relative recovery at 150 ng/ml of AQ (n = 6) was 84.0% and at 300 ng/ml of AQm the relative recovery was 74.3%. The intra-assay coefficients of variation at 150, 600 and 2250 ng/ml of AQ and 300, 600 and 2250 ng/ml of AQm were 7.7, 8.9 and 6.2% (AQ) and 10.1, 5.4 and 3.9% (AQm), respectively. The inter-assay coefficient of variation at 150, 600 and 2250 ng/ml of AQ and 300, 600 and 2250 ng/ml of AQm were 5.2, 8.1 and 6.9% (AQ) and 3.3, 2.3 and 4.6% (AQm). There was no interference from other commonly used antimalarial and antipyretic drugs (chloroquine, quinine, sulfadoxine, pyrimethamine, artesunate, acetaminophen and salicylate). The method is particularly suitable for pharmacokinetic studies in settings where facilities for storing blood/plasma samples are not available.

Nzila, AM, Kokwaro G, Winstanley PA, Marsh K, Ward SA.  2004.  Therapeutic potential of folate uptake inhibition in Plasmodium falciparum. Abstract

Plasmodium falciparum parasites resistant to the combination sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are spreading in Africa, particularly in East Africa. This is a matter of concern because there are no other affordable drugs available. This article provides the evidence indicating that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance can be reversed in vitro and discusses how this information might be exploited to extend the therapeutic lifetime of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in vivo

Watkins, B, Kokwaro G, Galinski M, Mutabingwa TK, Trape JF.  2004.  WHO, the Global Fund, and medical malpractice in malaria treatment.


Kokwaro, GO, Marsh K, Edwards G, Otieno GO, Muchohi SN, Crawley J, Newton CRJC, Ogutu BR.  2002.  Pharmacokinetics and anticonvulsant effects of diazepam in children with severe falciparum malaria and convulsions. Abstract

Convulsions are a common complication of severe malaria in children and are associated with poor outcome. Diazepam is used to terminate convulsions but its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics have not been studied in this group. Accordingly, we carried out a comparative study of the pharmacokinetics of intravenous (i.v.) and rectal (p.r.) diazepam. Twenty-five children with severe malaria and a convulsion lasting >5 min were studied. Sixteen children received diazepam intravenously (i.v.; 0.3 mg kg−1) and nine rectally (p.r.; 0.5 mg kg−1). Plasma diazepam concentrations were measured by reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The duration of convulsions, depth of coma, respiratory and cardiovascular parameters were monitored.   Median maximum plasma diazepam concentrations of 634 (range 402–1507) ng ml−1 and 423 (range 112–1953) ng ml−1 were achieved at 5 and 25 min following i.v. and p.r. administration, respectively. All patients except three (one i.v. and two p.r.) achieved plasma diazepam concentration >200 ng ml−1 within 5 min. Following p.r. administration, plasma diazepam concentrations were more variable than i.v. administration. A single dose of i.v. diazepam terminated convulsions in all children but in only 6/9 after p.r. administration. However, nine children treated with i.v. and all those treated with p.r. diazepam had a recurrence of convulsions occurring at median plasma diazepam concentrations of 157 (range: 67–169) and 172 (range: 74–393) ng ml−1, respectively. All the children in the i.v. and four in the PR diazepam group who had recurrence of convulsions required treatment. None of the children developed respiratory depression or hypotension.   Administration of diazepam i.v. or p.r. resulted in achievement of therapeutic concentrations of diazepam rapidly, without significant cardio-respiratory adverse effects. However, following p.r. administration, diazepam did not terminate all convulsions and plasma drug concentrations were more variable.

Muchohi, SN, Kokwaro GO, Maitho TE, Munenge RW, Watkins WM, Edwards G.  2002.  Pharmacokinetics of phenytoin following intravenous and intramuscular administration of fosphenytoin and phenytoin sodium in the rabbit. Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare plasma phenytoin concentration versus time profiles following intravenous (i.v) and intramuscular (i.m) administration of fosphenytoin sodium with those obtained following administration of standard phenytoin sodium injection in the rabbit. Twenty-four adult New Zealand White rabbits (2.1±0.4 kg) were anaesthetized with sodium pentobarbitone (30 mg/kg) followed by i.v or i.m administration of a single 10 mg/kg phenytoin sodium or fosphenytoin sodium equivalents. Blood samples (1.5 ml) were obtained from a femoral artery cannula predose and at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, 240 and 300 min after drug administration. Plasma was separated by centrifugation (1000 g; 5 min) and fosphenytoin, total and free plasma phenytoin concentrations were measured using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Following i.v administration of fosphenytoin sodium plasma phenytoin concentrations were similar to those obtained following i.v administration of an equivalent dose of phenytoin sodium. Mean peak plasma phenytoin concentrations (Cmax) was 158% higher (P=0.0077) following i.m administration of fosphenytoin sodium compared to i.m administration of phenytoin sodium. The mean area under the plasma total and free phenytoin concentration-time curve from time zero to 120 min (AUC0−120) following i.m administration was also significantly higher (P=0.0277) in fosphenytoin treated rabbits compared to the phenytoin group. However, there was no significant difference in AUC0−180 between fosphenytoin and phenytoin-treated rabbits following i.v administration. There was also no significant difference in the mean times to achieve peak plasma phenytoin-concentrations (Tmax) between fosphenytoin and phenytoin-treated rabbits following i.m administration. Mean plasma albumin concentrations were comparable in both groups of animals. Fosphenytoin was rapidly converted to phenytoin both after i.v and i.m administration, with plasma fosphenytoin concentrations declining rapidly to undetectable levels within 10 min following administration via either route. These results confirm the rapid and complete hydrolysis of fosphenytoin to phenytoin in vivo, and the potential of the i.m route for administration of fosphenytoin delivering phenytoin in clinical settings where i.v administration may not be feasible.


Muchohi, SN; Newton, CRJC, Ogutu BR;, Newton CRJC;, Kokwaro GO.  2001.  High-performance liquid chromatographic determination of diazepam in plasma of children with severe malaria .


Kokwaro, GO.  1998.  Use of Artemisinin (Qinghaosu) derivatives in the treatment of malaria. Abstract

Derivatives of the Chinese herbal remedy ginghaosu (artemisinin) are useful in the treatment of multiple-drug resistant malaria. This review covers the discovery, development, clinical pharmacology and toxicology of these compounds, with emphasis on those derivatives currently in use in parts of Africa


Kokwaro, G;, Edwards G;, Roberts P;, Ward S;, Winstanley P;, Watkins W.  1997.  Infection with Plasmodium berghei alters benzodiazepine receptor in rat brain. Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of malaria infection on benzodiazepine binding in rat brain. Young male Wistar rats were infected with the rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei, while age-matched control rats (n = 5) received normal saline intraperitoneally. Parasitemia was determined in blood of infected animals. Animals were killed after two weeks, and synaptosomal brain membrane homogenate was prepared from cerebral cortex. Membrane homogenate was incubated in duplicate with 3H-flunitrazepam (0.2-10 nM in buffer, pH 7.4) and binding parameters determined. The number of receptors (Bmax) was decreased marginally but significantly (P = 0.047) in malaria-infected (MI) rats (MI rats: 1.12 +/- 0.1 protein; control rats: 1.42 +/- 0.08 protein) while binding affinity (Kd) was not altered (MI rats: 1.18 +/- 0.3 nM; control rats: 1.02 +/- 0.15 nM). These results suggest that malaria may be associated with decreased benzodiazepine activity


Kokwaro, GO, Indalo AA, Taylor G.  1996.  Pharmacokinetics of oxamniquine in rabbit and rat. Abstract

The pharmacokinetics of the schistosomicidal agent oxamniquine (6-hydroxmethyl-2-isopropylaminomethyl-7-nitro-1,2,3,4-tetra hydroquinoline) were studied in 8 (4 male, 4 female) New Zealand White rabbits and 5 female Wistar rats, following intravenous administration (15 mg/kg). The pharmacokinetic parameters (mean +/- SD) in the rabbit and rat, respectively, were as follows: plasma clearance, 65.5 +/- 33 and 17.2 +/- 5.7 ml/min/kg; steady-state volume of distribution, 7.9 +/- 4.5 and 2.1 +/- 0.5 l/kg; terminal elimination half-life, 1.8 +/- 0.3 and 1.8 +/- 0.9 h. Oxamniquine appeared to be widely distributed in both species, although significantly higher in the rabbit. Similarly, plasma clearance was significantly higher in the rabbit. Using reported estimates of liver blood flow and fractions excreted unchanged in urine of the rabbit and rat, calculations based on blood clearances indicated that oxamniquine has a low hepatic extraction ratio (0.2) in the rat and an intermediate hepatic extraction ratio (0.6) in the rabbit. From separate experiments, however, hepatic extraction appeared to be low in the rabbit, suggesting that oxamniquine disposition is probably broadly similar in both rabbit and rat

Kokwaro, GO, kwasa TO, Indalo AA, Kibwage IO.  1996.  Steady-state anticonvulsant drug levels in epileptic patients. Abstract

Steady state concentrations of three anticonvulsant drugs (phenobarbitone, phenytoin and carbamazepine) were measured in plasma samples from fifteen patients (eight males and seven females; ages: 13-49 years; body weights: 44-70kg), attending the outpatient Neurology Clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital. In addition, total protein and albumin levels were measured in plasma from patients taking phenytoin. Total protein levels were normal (range:6.3-7.6g1dl) in all patients except in one patient (l0.7g1dl). Albumin levels were also normal (range: 3. 7 -4.1g1dl) in all patients except one (2.54g1dl). One patient on phenobarbitone and three patients on phenytoin had no detectable drug levels in their plasma. In the remainder, phenobarbitone, phenytoin and carbamazepine steady state concentrations were 8.7-21.1mgIL (N=8), 9.3-27.3mgIL (N=6) and 10-19.7mgIL (N=5), respectively. The unbound fraction of phenytoin in plasma (fu) was normal(approximately 0.1) in six patients, but relatively high (0.2) in one patient. Most patients in the study complied with the prescribed treatment and their epilepsy was controlled. Cases where drug le•vels were undetectable probably arose from a lack of money to purchase all, prescribed medicines: rather than deliberate non-compliance. Routine monitoring of anticonvulsant drug levels may improve management of epileptic patients.


Kokwaro, GO.  1995.  Pharmacokinetic basis of nifedipine-digoxin interaction: a commentary. Abstract

Elevation of plasma digoxin levels following concurrent administration of nifedipine have previously been reported. The mechanism for this interaction has not been fully explained, but may include a reduction in volume of distribution of digoxin and/or reduction in the renal or non-renal clearance of digoxin by nifedipine. The end result is probably an elevation of plasma concentrations of free (pharmacologically active) digoxin, which may lead to manifestation of side effects of digoxin. This communication highlights the possible pharmacokinetic basis of the reported digoxin-nifedipine interaction.

Indalo, AA, Kokwaro GO.  1995.  Pharmacokinetics of temazepam in male surgical patients. Abstract

The pharmacokinetics of temazepam, the 3-hydroxy1 derivative of diazepam, were studied in nine male surgical patients (age: 28-57 years; weight: 55-87 kg) who had ingested single 40 mg doses, 4 hours prior to minor surgical procedures. Peak plasma temazepam concentrations were achieved rapidly (within 1 h post drug administration) and the estimated volume of distribution (mean: 1.13 1/kg), total clearance (mean: 1.6 ml/min/kg) and terminal elimination half-life (mean: 8 hours) were comparable to previously reported values in healthy subjects. There was no correlation between volume of distribution and either weight or age, and between clearance and age. These findings are broadly consistent with previous reports from studies in healthy subjects. Temazepam can therefore be used as a premedicant in patients requiring minor surgery; the concomitant anaesthetic agents administered and the surgical procedures have no effects on temazepam pharmacokinetics

Watkins, WM;, Winstanley PA;, Mberu EK;, Kokwaro GO;, Murphy SA;, Mwangi I;, Waruiru C;, Foster D;, Marsh K.  1995.  Halofantrine pharmacokinetics in Kenyan children with complicated and uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Abstract

1. Kenyan children with uncomplicated malaria given oral halofantrine (HF; non-micronised suspension; 8 mg base kg-1 body weight 6 hourly for three doses) showed wide variation in the disposition of HF and desbutylhalofantrine (HFm). 2. Eight Kenyan children with severe (prostrate) falciparum malaria who were receiving intravenous quinine, were given the same HF regimen by nasogastric tube. One patient had undetectable HF and two had undetectable HFm at all times after drug administration. 3. The mean AUC(0,24 h) of HF in prostrate children was half (7.54 compared with 13.10 micrograms ml-1 h) (P = 0.06), and that for HFm one-third (0.84 compared with 2.51 micrograms ml-1 h) (P < 0.05) of the value in children with uncomplicated malaria. 4. Oral HF may be appropriate for some cases of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Africa, but in patients with severe malaria, the bioavailability of HF and HFm may be inadequate




Kokwaro, GO.  1981.  The Formulation Of Stable Adrenaline Eye Drops For Use In The Management Of Glaucoma. Abstract

The different factors affecting the stability of adrenaline
in solution have been examined with a view to producing a
pharmaceutically active eye drop prep~ration of adrenaline. It
was important that such a formulation should be simple enough to

enable preperation using the available facilities in this country_
A preformu1ation screening of antioxidants in the
absence of adrenaline showed that at low/values (around pH 3.0)
sodium sulphite was superior to either sodium metabisu1phite or
ascorbic acid. Accelerated stability studies showed that the
pH of maximum stability for aqueous solutions of adrenaline was
approximately pH 3.7. Accelerated stability tests at this pH

confirmed the superiority of sodium sulphite over a combination
of sodium metabisu1phite and ascorbic acid as antioxidants.
Accelerated stability studies also confirmed the
important role of boric acid in enhancing the stability of adrenaline
in aqueous solutions.
An investigation of four sterilization procedures
showed that the immediate loss of adrenaline was negligible
after either sterilization by filtration or by heating at 980c
for 30 minutes. Higher sterilization temperatures caused
substantial loss of adrenaline and discolouration of the solut
ions ,
For reasons of comfort to the patient on instillation
- 131 -
into the eye and for clarity of the solution in presence of the
preservative used (Benzalkonium Chloride), a final formulation of
adrenaline eye drops was prepared in borate buffer at pH 5.8,
with sodium sulphite as the antioxidant. Accelerated stability
studies and long term storage studies at ambient temperatures
showed that the final preparation was reasonably stable. Clinical
testing of the preparation on hospitalized glaucoma patients
showed that the preparation compared favourably with commercial
and other preparations used in the management of raised intraocular

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