Systemic biodistribution and intravitreal pharmacokinetic properties of bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and aflibercept in a nonhuman primate model

John B Christoforidis, Karen Briley, Katherine Binzel, Prayna Bhatia, Lai Wei, Krishan Kumar, Michael Vinzenz Knopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To determine the intravitreal pharmacokinetic properties and to study the systemic biodistribution characteristics of I-124-labeled bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and aflibercept with positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging in a nonhuman primate model. METHODS. Three groups with four owl monkeys per group underwent intravitreal injection with 1.25 mg/0.05 mL I-124 bevacizumab, 0.5 mg/0.05 mL I-124 ranibizumab, or 2.0 mg/0.05 mL I-124 aflibercept in the right eye of each subject. All subjects were imaged using PET/CT on days 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 14, 21, 28, and 35. Serum blood draws were performed at hours 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and days 1, 2, 4, 8, 14, 21, 28, and 35. Radioactivity emission measurements were used to determine the intravitreal half-lives of each agent and to study the differences of radioactivity uptake in nonocular organs. RESULTS. The intravitreal half-lives were 3.60 days for I-124 bevacizumab, 2.73 days for I-124 ranibizumab, and 2.44 days for I-124 aflibercept. Serum levels were highest and most prolonged for bevacizumab as compared to both ranibizumab and aflibercept. All agents were primarily excreted through the renal and mononuclear phagocyte systems. However, bevacizumab was also found in significantly higher levels in the liver, heart, and distal femur bones. CONCLUSIONS. Among the three anti-VEGF agents used in clinical practice, bevacizumab demonstrated the longest intravitreal retention time and aflibercept the shortest. Significantly higher and prolonged levels of bevacizumab were found in the serum as well as in the heart, liver, and distal bones. These differences may be considered by clinicians when formulating treatment algorithms for intravitreal therapies with these agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5636-5645
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017



  • Biodistribution
  • Intravitreal drug delivery
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Radiolabeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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