Induction of anesthesia is a phase characterized by rapid changes in both drug concentration and drug effect. Conventional mammillary compartmental models are limited in their ability to accurately describe the early drug distribution kinetics. Recirculatory models have been used to account for intravascular mixing after drug administration. However, these models themselves may be prone to misspecification. Artificial neural networks offer an advantage in that they are flexible and not limited to a specific structure and, therefore, may be superior in modeling complex nonlinear systems. They have been used successfully in the past to model steady-state or near steady-state kinetics, but never have they been used to model induction-phase kinetics using a high-resolution pharmacokinetic dataset. This study is the first to use an artificial neural network to model early- and late-phase kinetics of a drug.
Twenty morbidly obese and 10 lean subjects were each administered propofol for induction of anesthesia at a rate of 100 mg/kg/h based on lean body weight and total body weight for obese and lean subjects, respectively. High-resolution plasma samples were collected during the induction phase of anesthesia, with the last sample taken at 16 hours after propofol administration for a total of 47 samples per subject. Traditional mammillary compartment models, recirculatory models, and a gated recurrent unit neural network were constructed to model the propofol pharmacokinetics. Model performance was compared.
A 4-compartment model, a recirculatory model, and a gated recurrent unit neural network were assessed. The final recirculatory model (mean prediction error: 0.348; mean square error: 23.92) and gated recurrent unit neural network that incorporated ensemble learning (mean prediction error: 0.161; mean square error: 20.83) had similar performance. Each of these models overpredicted propofol concentrations during the induction and elimination phases. Both models had superior performance compared to the 4-compartment model (mean prediction error: 0.108; mean square error: 31.61), which suffered from overprediction bias during the first 5 minutes followed by under-prediction bias after 5 minutes.
A recirculatory model and gated recurrent unit artificial neural network that incorporated ensemble learning both had similar performance and were both superior to a compartmental model in describing our high-resolution pharmacokinetic data of propofol. The potential of neural networks in pharmacokinetic modeling is encouraging but may be limited by the amount of training data available for these models.