Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic alterations of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors: drug-drug interactions and interindividual differences in transporter and metabolic enzyme functions

Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Oct;112(1):71-105. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2006.03.003. Epub 2006 May 22.


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) are widely used for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Their efficacy in preventing cardiovascular events has been shown by a large number of clinical trials. However, myotoxic side effects, sometimes severe, including myopathy or rhabdomyolysis, are associated with the use of statins. In some cases, such toxicity is associated with pharmacokinetic alterations. In this review, the pharmacokinetic aspects and physicochemical properties of statins are reviewed in order to understand the mechanism governing their pharmacokinetic alterations. Among the statins, simvastatin, lovastatin and atorvastatin are metabolized by cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) while fluvastatin is metabolized by CYP2C9. Cerivastatin is subjected to 2 metabolic pathways mediated by CYP2C8 and 3A4. Pravastatin, rosuvastatin and pitavastatin undergo little metabolism. Their plasma clearances are governed by the transporters involved in the hepatic uptake and biliary excretion. Also for other statins, which are orally administered as open acid forms (i.e. fluvastatin, cerivastatin and atorvastatin), hepatic uptake transporter(s) play important roles in their clearances. Based on such information, pharmacokinetic alterations of statins can be predicted following coadministration of other drugs or in patients with lowered activities in drug metabolism and/or transport. We also present a quantitative analysis of the effect of some factors on the pharmacokinetics of statins based on a physiologically based pharmacokinetic model. To avoid a pharmacokinetic alteration, we need to have information about the metabolizing enzyme(s) and transporter(s) involved in the pharmacokinetics of statins and, along with such information, model-based prediction is also useful.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Biological


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System