A full Bayesian statistical treatment of complex pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic models, in particular in a population context, gives access to powerful inference, including on model structure. Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) samplers are typically used to estimate the joint posterior parameter distribution of interest. Among MCMC samplers, the simulated tempering algorithm (TMCMC) has a number of advantages: it can sample from sharp multi-modal posteriors; it provides insight into identifiability issues useful for model simplification; it can be used to compute accurate Bayes factors for model choice; the simulated Markov chains mix quickly and have assured convergence in certain conditions.
Traditionally, the solution to reduce parameter dimensionality in a physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model is through expert judgment. However, this approach may lead to bias in parameter estimates and model predictions if important parameters are fixed at uncertain or inappropriate values. The purpose of this study was to explore the application of global sensitivity analysis (GSA) to ascertain which parameters in the PBPK model are non-influential, and therefore can be assigned fixed values in Bayesian parameter estimation with minimal bias.