Applying Linear and Non-Linear Methods for Parallel Prediction of Volume of Distribution and Fraction of Unbound Drug

<div><p>Volume of distribution and fraction unbound are two key parameters in pharmacokinetics. The fraction unbound describes the portion of free drug in plasma that may extravasate, while volume of distribution describes the tissue access and binding of a drug. Reliable <i>in silico</i> predictions of these pharmacokinetic parameters would benefit the early stages of drug discovery, as experimental measuring is not feasible for screening purposes. We have applied linear and nonlinear multivariate approaches to predict these parameters: linear partial least square regression and non-linear recursive partitioning classification. The volume of distribution and fraction of unbound drug in plasma are predicted in parallel within the model, since the two are expected to be affected by similar physicochemical drug properties. Predictive models for both parameters were built and the performance of the linear models compared to models included in the commercial software <i>Volsurf+</i>. Our models performed better in predicting the unbound fraction (Q<sup>2</sup> 0.54 for test set compared to 0.38 with <i>Volsurf+</i> model), but prediction accuracy of the volume of distribution was comparable to the <i>Volsurf+</i> model (Q<sup>2</sup> of 0.70 for test set compared to 0.71 with <i>Volsurf+</i> model). The nonlinear classification models were able to identify compounds with a high or low volume of distribution (sensitivity 0.81 and 0.71, respectively, for test set), while classification of fraction unbound was less successful. The interrelationship between the volume of distribution and fraction unbound is investigated and described in terms of physicochemical descriptors. Lipophilicity and solubility descriptors were found to have a high influence on both volume of distribution and fraction unbound, but with an inverse relationship.</p></div>