Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of betulinic acid in CD‐1 mice1 Academic Article uri icon


  • Betulinic acid is a naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenoid. Betulinic acid has recently been selected by the National Cancer Institute for addition into the RAID (Rapid Access to Intervention in Development) programme. The agent exhibits potential anti-tumour activity and functions in this regard via apoptosis. The objective of the present study was to determine the pharmacokinetics of betulinic acid in CD-1 mice. Serum samples were obtained at designed times after a single 250 or 500 mg/kg intraperitoneal (IP) dose of betulinic acid. Tissue samples (skin, heart, liver, spleen, kidney, lung, brain, colon, caecum, ovary, uterus, thymus, lymph node, bladder, perirenal fat, mammary gland and small intestine) were collected after betulinic acid administration (500 mg/kg). Betulinic acid was extracted with methylene chloride and quantitatively analysed by HPLC/MS. Oleanolic acid and madecassic acid were used as internal standards. Pharmacokinetic parameters were calculated using the WinNonlin pharmacokinetic software package. A two-compartment, first-order model was selected for pharmacokinetic modelling. The results showed that after IP 250 and 500 mg/kg betulinic acid, the serum concentrations reached peaks at 0.15 and 0.23 h, respectively. The 250 and 500 mg/kg above betulinic acid IP doses were found to have elimination half-lives of 11.5 and 11.8 h and total clearances of 13.6 and 13.5 L/kg/h, respectively. The pharmacokinetic parameters observed for IP betulinic acid 500 mg/kg in the skin of mice were as follows: k(a) (h(-1)) 0.257, k(10) (h(-1)) 0.234, t(1/2(alpha)) (h) 2.63, t(1/2(beta)) (h) 20.2, V (L/kg) 0.61, AUC (microg/h/mL) 3504, T(max) (h) 3.90 and C(max) (microg/mL) 300.9. The distribution of betulinic acid in tissues at 24 h post-IP administration in a descending order was as follows: perirenal fat, ovary, spleen, mammary gland, uterus, bladder, lymph node, liver, small intestine, caecum, lung, thymus, colon, kidney, skin, heart and brain.

author list (cited authors)

  • Udeani, G. O., Zhao, G., Shin, Y. G., Cooke, B. P., Graham, J., Beecher, C., Kinghorn, A. D., & Pezzuto, J. M.

citation count

  • 63

publication date

  • November 1999