Interactions between cyclosporin and lipid-lowering drugs: implications for organ transplant recipients

Drugs. 2003;63(4):367-78. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200363040-00003.


Dyslipidaemia is more frequent in solid organ transplant recipients than in the general population, primarily as a result of immunosuppressive drug treatment. Both cyclosporin and corticosteroids are associated with dyslipidaemic adverse effects. In order to reduce the overall cardiovascular risk in these patients, lipid-lowering drugs have become widely used, especially HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). Cyclosporin, as well as most statins (lovastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin and pravastatin) are metabolised by cytochrome P450 (CYP)3A4, so a bilateral pharmacokinetic interaction between these drugs is theoretically possible. However, results from several studies show that statins do not induce increased systemic exposure of cyclosporin. A small (but not clinically relevant) reduction in systemic exposure of cyclosporin has actually been shown in many studies. Cyclosporin-treated patients on the other hand show several-fold higher systemic exposure of all statins, both those that are metabolised by CYP3A4 and fluvastatin (metabolised by CYP2C9). Therefore, the mechanism for this interaction does not seem to be solely caused by inhibition of CYP3A4 metabolism, but it is probably also a result of inhibition of statin-transport in the liver, at least in part. Other lipid-lowering drugs, such as fibric acid derivatives, bile acid sequestrants, probucol, fish oils and orlistat are also used in solid organ transplant recipients. Most of them do not interact with cyclosporin, but there are reports indicating that both probucol and orlistat may reduce cyclosporin bioavailablility to a clinically relevant degree. There is no information on possible interaction effects of cyclosporin on the pharmacokinetics of lipid-lowering drugs other than statins, but it is not likely that any clinical relevant interference exists with fish oil, orlistat, probucol or bile acid sequestrants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acids, Acyclic / adverse effects
  • Acids, Acyclic / metabolism
  • Area Under Curve
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cyclosporine / adverse effects
  • Cyclosporine / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fish Oils / adverse effects
  • Fish Oils / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipidemias / etiology
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / metabolism*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / metabolism*
  • Lactones / adverse effects
  • Lactones / metabolism
  • Organ Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Orlistat
  • Probucol / adverse effects
  • Probucol / metabolism
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / adverse effects
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / metabolism


  • Acids, Acyclic
  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Fish Oils
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Lactones
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Cyclosporine
  • Orlistat
  • Probucol