Metabolism and drug interactions of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors in transplant patients: are the statins mechanistically similar?

Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Oct;80(1):1-34. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(98)00016-3.


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (EC inhibitors are the most effective drugs to lower cholesterol in transplant patients. However, immunosuppressants and several other drugs used after organ transplantation are cytochrome P4503A (CYP3A, EC substrates. Pharmacokinetic interaction with some of the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, specifically lovastatin and simvastatin, leads to an increased incidence of muscle skeletal toxicity in transplant patients. It is our objective to review the role of drug metabolism and drug interactions of lovastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, fluvastatin, atorvastatin, and cerivastatin. In the treatment of transplant patients, from a drug interaction perspective, pravastatin, which is not significantly metabolized by CYP enzymes, and fluvastatin, presumably a CYP2C9 substrate, compare favorably with the other statins for which the major metabolic pathways are catalyzed by CYP3A.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperlipidemias
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Lovastatin / metabolism
  • Lovastatin / pharmacology
  • Naphthalenes / metabolism
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology*
  • Organ Transplantation*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Naphthalenes
  • Lovastatin