Area under the curve

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In the field of pharmacokinetics, the area under the curve (AUC) is the area under the curve in a plot of concentration of drug in plasma against time.

Interpretation and usefulness of AUC values

In real-world terms the AUC (from zero to infinity) represents the total amount of drug absorbed by the body, irrespective of the rate of absorption. This is useful when trying to determine whether two formulations of the same dose (for example a capsule and a tablet) release the same dose of drug to the body. Another use is in the therapeutic monitoring of toxic drugs. For example, gentamicin is an antibiotic which displays nephro- and ototoxicities; measurement of gentamicin concentrations in a patient's plasma and calculation of the AUC is used to guide the dosage of this drug.

AUC becomes useful for knowing the average concentration over a time interval, AUC/t. Also, AUC is referenced when talking about elimination. The amount eliminated by the body = clearance (volume/time) * AUC (mass*time/volume).

See also

Area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve.