Effects of erythromycin or rifampin on losartan pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Mar;63(3):316-23. doi: 10.1016/S0009-9236(98)90163-1.


Background: Losartan is metabolized by CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 to an active metabolite, E3174, which has greater antihypertensive activity than the parent compound. Coadministered drugs that inhibit or induce metabolic processes may therefore alter the pharmacokinetics and pharmacologic response of losartan and E3174.

Objective and methods: Ten healthy volunteers were studied to assess the effects of CYP3A4 inhibition and nonspecific P450 enzyme induction on the pharmacokinetics of losartan and E3174. Subjects completed three 1-week phases separated by 6 days: 50 mg losartan every morning, losartan plus 500 mg erythromycin four times a day, and losartan plus 300 mg rifampin (INN, rifampicin) twice a day. On the eighth day of each phase, serial plasma concentrations of losartan and E3174 were obtained over 32 hours and steady-state pharmacokinetics were determined.

Results: Rifampin decreased the area under the concentration-time curve from time zero to 24 hours after the dose (AUC[0-24]) of losartan by 35% (349 +/- 246 versus 225 +/- 130; p = 0.0001) and decreased the AUC(0-24) of E3174 by 40% (1336 +/- 445 versus 792 +/- 302; p < 0.005). Losartan oral clearance was increased by 44% (p = 0.0001). The half-life values of both compounds were decreased by 50% (p < 0.005). In contrast, erythromycin did not significantly affect the AUC(0-24) or half-life of either losartan or E3174.

Conclusions: Rifampin is a potent inducer of losartan and E3174 elimination. Given the magnitude of the effect, this interaction is likely to be clinically significant. On the basis of the minimal inhibitory effects observed with erythromycin, CYP3A4 appears to play a minor role in the in vivo metabolism of losartan to E3174. Further studies are needed to define the contribution of other isozymes, particularly CYP2C9, to the pharmacokinetics of losartan and E3174.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antibiotics, Antitubercular / pharmacology*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Losartan / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Rifampin / pharmacology*
  • Tetrazoles / pharmacokinetics*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibiotics, Antitubercular
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Imidazoles
  • Tetrazoles
  • Erythromycin
  • losartan carboxylic acid
  • Losartan
  • Rifampin