In the context of glucocorticoid (GC) therapeutics, recent studies have utilised a subcutaneous hydrocortisone (HC) infusion pump programmed to deliver multiple HC pulses throughout the day, with the purpose of restoring normal circadian and ultradian GC rhythmicity. A key challenge for the advancement of novel HC replacement therapies is the calibration of infusion pumps against cortisol levels measured in blood. However, repeated blood sampling sessions are enormously labour-intensive for both examiners and examinees. These sessions also have a cost, are time consuming and are occasionally unfeasible. To address this, we developed a pharmacokinetic model approximating the values of plasma cortisol levels at any point of the day from a limited number of plasma cortisol measurements. The model was validated using the plasma cortisol profiles of 9 subjects with disrupted endogenous GC synthetic capacity. The model accurately predicted plasma cortisol levels (mean absolute percentage error of 14%) when only four plasma cortisol measurements were provided. Although our model did not predict GC dynamics when HC was administered in a way other than subcutaneously or in individuals whose endogenous capacity to produce GCs is intact, it was found to successfully be used to support clinical trials (or practice) involving subcutaneous HC delivery in patients with reduced endogenous capacity to synthesize GCs.
- glucocorticoid pulsatility
- pharmacokinetic model
- subcutaneous delivery
- glucocorticoid insufficiency
- hydrocortisone replacement therapy