The pharmacokinetics of oxytetracycline in 2-yr-old loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) after single i.v. and i.m. injections were studied for biologic marking and therapeutic applications. Twenty juvenile turtles were divided into two treatment groups. Ten animals received 25 mg/kg of oxytetracycline i.v. and 10 received the same dosage i.m. Plasma oxytetracycline concentrations were analyzed by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Data from the i.v. route best fit a three-compartment model, whereas noncompartmental analysis was used to compare data from both the i.v. and i.m routes. For the i.v. route, means for maximum plasma concentration, terminal phase half-life, systemic clearance, and apparent volume of distribution at steady state were 6.6 μg/ml, 66.1 hr, 290.7 ml/hr/kg, and 18.4 L, respectively. For the i.m. route, means for systemic availability, maximum plasma concentration, and elimination half-life were 91.8%, 1.6 μg/ml, and 61.9 hr, respectively. The remarkably high apparent volume of distribution may possibly be associated with a deep compartment of drug disposition such as bone deposition associated with the large skeletal mass of turtles and the fact that these were well-nourished, growing juveniles. Although maximum plasma concentration by i.m. administration was lower than for the i.v. route, the long elimination time indicates that an infrequent dosing interval may be effective for sensitive bacteria.
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