Relationship between plasma and intracellular concentrations of bedaquiline and its m2 metabolite in South African patients with rifampin-resistant tuberculosis

Precious Ngwalero, James C.M. Brust, Stijn W. van Beek, Sean Wasserman, Gary Maartens, Graeme Meintjes, Anton Joubert, Jennifer Norman, Sandra Castel, Neel R. Gandhi, Paolo Denti, Helen McIlleron, Elin M. Svensson, Lubbe Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Bedaquiline is recommended for the treatment of all patients with rifampin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB). Bedaquiline accumulates within cells, but its intracellular pharmacokinetics have not been characterized, which may have implications for dose optimization. We developed a novel assay using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to measure the intracellular concentrations of bedaquiline and its primary metabolite M2 in patients with RR-TB in South Africa. Twenty-one participants were enrolled and underwent sparse sampling of plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) at months 1, 2, and 6 of treatment and at 3 and 6 months after bedaquiline treatment completion. Intensive sampling was performed at month 2. We used noncompartmental analysis to describe plasma and intracellular exposures and a population pharmacokinetic model to explore the relationship between plasma and intracellular pharmacokinetics and the effects of key covariates. Bedaquiline concentrations from month 1 to month 6 of treatment ranged from 94.7 to 2,540 ng/ml in plasma and 16.2 to 5,478 ng/ml in PBMCs, and concentrations of M2 over the 6-month treatment period ranged from 34.3 to 496 ng/ml in plasma and 109.2 to 16,764 ng/ml in PBMCs. Plasma concentrations of bedaquiline were higher than those of M2, but intracellular concentrations of M2 were considerably higher than those of bedaquiline. In the pharmacokinetic modeling, we estimated a linear increase in the intracellular-plasma accumulation ratio for bedaquiline and M2, reaching maximum effect after 2 months of treatment. The typical intracellular-plasma ratios 1 and 2 months after start of treatment were 0.61 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.42 to 0.92) and 1.10 (95% CI: 0.74 to 1.63) for bedaquiline and 12.4 (95% CI: 8.8 to 17.8) and 22.2 (95% CI: 15.6 to 32.3) for M2. The intracellular-plasma ratios for both bedaquiline and M2 were decreased by 54% (95% CI: 24 to 72%) in HIV-positive patients compared to HIV-negative patients. Bedaquiline and M2 were detectable in PBMCs 6 months after treatment discontinuation. M2 accumulated at higher concentrations intracellularly than bedaquiline, supporting in vitro evidence that M2 is the main inducer of phospholipidosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02399-20
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Bedaquiline
  • Drug-resistant tuberculosis
  • Intracellular
  • Metabolite
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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