In the field of pharmacokinetics, the area under the curve (AUC) is the definite integral of the concentration of a drug in blood plasma as a function of time (this can be done using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry). In practice, the drug concentration is measured at certain discrete points in time and the trapezoidal rule is used to estimate AUC. In pharmacology, the area under the plot of plasma concentration of a drug versus time after dosage (called “area under the curve” or AUC) gives insight into the extent of exposure to a drug and its clearance rate from the body.
Interpretation and usefulness of AUC values
The AUC (from zero to infinity) represents the total drug exposure across time. AUC is a useful metric when trying to determine whether two formulations of the same dose (for example a capsule and a tablet) result in equal amounts of tissue or plasma exposure. Another use is in the therapeutic drug monitoring of drugs with a narrow therapeutic index. For