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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 11 (2010), Issue 2, Pages 161-184
Original Article

Fractal Pharmacokinetics

Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, USA

Received 23 February 2009; Accepted 7 May 2009

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pharmacokinetics (PK) has been traditionally dealt with under the homogeneity assumption. However, biological systems are nowadays comprehensively understood as being inherently fractal. Specifically, the microenvironments where drug molecules interact with membrane interfaces, metabolic enzymes or pharmacological receptors, are unanimously recognized as unstirred, space-restricted, heterogeneous and geometrically fractal. Therefore, classical Fickean diffusion and the notion of the compartment as a homogeneous kinetic space must be revisited. Diffusion in fractal spaces has been studied for a long time making use of fractional calculus and expanding on the notion of dimension. Combining this new paradigm with the need to describe and explain experimental data results in defining time-dependent rate constants with a characteristic fractal exponent. Under the one-compartment simplification this strategy is straightforward. However, precisely due to the heterogeneity of the underlying biology, often at least a two-compartment model is required to address macroscopic data such as drug concentrations. This simple modelling step-up implies significant analytical and numerical complications. However, a few methods are available that make possible the original desideratum. In fact, exploring the full range of parametric possibilities and looking at different drugs and respective biological concentrations, it may be concluded that all PK modelling approaches are indeed particular cases of the fractal PK theory.