Drug interactions with grapefruit juice. Extent, probable mechanism and clinical relevance

Drug Saf. 1998 Apr;18(4):251-72. doi: 10.2165/00002018-199818040-00002.


Concomitant intake with grapefruit juice increases the concentrations of many drugs in humans. The effect seems to be mediated mainly by suppression of the cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP3A4 in the small intestine wall. This results in a diminished first pass metabolism with higher bioavailability and increased maximal plasma concentrations of substrates of this enzyme. The effect was most pronounced in drugs with a high first pass degradation and in many cases has the clear potential to reach clinical relevance, as shown by an occasional change in drug effects or tolerability. For felodipine, nitrendipine, nisoldipine and saquinavir, the interaction was most marked with median increases of area under the curve (AUC) and/or the maximum (peak) plasma drug concentration after single-dose administration (Cmax) values exceeding 70% of respective control periods. Less pronounced, but possibly relevant, concentration increases were found for nifedipine, nimodipine, verapamil, cyclosporin, midazolam, triazolam and terfenadine. This list is not complete because many drugs have not been studied yet. The components of grapefruit juice which are the most probable causes of the interactions are psoralen derivatives, but the flavonoid naringenin may also contribute. Concomitant grapefruit juice intake does not generally decrease the variability of drug pharmacokinetic parameters. Therefore, it is recommended that patients refrain from drinking grapefruit juice when they are taking a drug that is extensively metabolised, unless a lack of interaction has already been demonstrated for the drug. It is also recommended that drugs possibly interacting with grapefruit juice should be appropriately labelled. A place for grapefruit juice as a drug-sparing agent in treatment involving expensive medicine cannot be derived from the information currently available on grapefruit juice interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Beverages*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacokinetics*
  • Citrus / chemistry*
  • Coumarins / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Food-Drug Interactions*
  • Furocoumarins
  • Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects
  • Intestine, Small / enzymology
  • Male
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Coumarins
  • Flavonoids
  • Furocoumarins
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • coumarin
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human