Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of meldonium in exercised thoroughbred horses

Heather K. Knych, Scott D. Stanley, Dan S. McKemie, Rick M. Arthur, Ulf Bondesson, Mikael Hedeland, Mario Thevis, Philip H. Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Although developed as a therapeutic medication, meldonium has found widespread use in human sports and was recently added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited substances. Its reported abuse potential in human sports has led to concern by regulatory authorities about the possible misuse of meldonium in equine athletics. The potential abuse in equine athletes along with the limited data available regarding the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of meldonium in horses necessitates further study. Eight exercised adult thoroughbred horses received a single oral dose of 3.5, 7.1, 14.3 or 21.4 mg/kg of meldonium. Blood and urine samples were collected and analyzed using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Pharmacokinetic parameters were determined using non-compartmental analysis. Maximum serum concentrations ranged from 440.2 to 1147 ng/mL and the elimination half-life from 422 to 647.8 h. Serum concentrations were below the limit of quantitation by days 4, 7, 12 and 12 for doses of 3.5, 7.1, 14.3 and 21.4 mg/kg, respectively. Urine concentrations were below the limit of detection by day 44 following administration of 3.5 mg/kg and day 51 for all other dose groups. No adverse effects were observed following meldonium administration. While the group numbers were small, changes in heart rate were observed in the 3.5 mg/kg dose group (n = 1). Glucose concentrations changed significantly in all dose groups studied (n = 2 per dose group). Similar to that reported for humans, the detection time of meldonium in biological samples collected from horses is prolonged, which should allow for satisfactory regulation in performance horses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1392-1399
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • LC–MS
  • doping
  • horse
  • horse racing
  • meldonium
  • pharmacodynamics
  • pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Spectroscopy


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