Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 51, Issue 9, pp 591–606 | Cite as

Diabetes Mellitus Reduces the Clearance of Atorvastatin Lactone

Results of a Population Pharmacokinetic Analysis in Renal Transplant Recipients and In Vitro Studies Using Human Liver Microsomes
  • Miroslav Dostalek
  • Wai-Johnn Sam
  • Komal R. Paryani
  • Joyce S. Macwan
  • Reginald Y. Gohh
  • Fatemeh Akhlaghi
Original Research Article


Background and Objective

Patients with diabetes mellitus might be at a higher risk of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (statin)-induced myotoxicity, possibly because of reduced clearance of the statin lactone. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of diabetes on the biotransformation of atorvastatin acid, both in vivo in nondiabetic and diabetic renal transplant recipients, and in vitro in human liver samples from nondiabetic and diabetic donors.

Subjects and Methods

A total of 312 plasma concentrations of atorvastatin acid and atorvastatin lactone, from 20 nondiabetic and 32 diabetic renal transplant recipients, were included in the analysis. Nonlinear mixed-effects modelling was employed to determine the population pharmacokinetic estimates for atorvastatin acid and atorvastatin lactone. In addition, the biotransformation of these compounds was studied using human liver microsomal fractions obtained from 12 nondiabetic and 12 diabetic donors.


In diabetic patients, the plasma concentration of atorvastatin lactone was significantly higher than that of atorvastatin acid throughout the 24-hour sampling period. The optimal population pharmacokinetic model for atorvastatin acid and atorvastatin lactone consisted of a two- and one-compartment model, respectively, with interconversion between atorvastatin acid and atorvastatin lactone. Parent drug was absorbed orally with a population estimate first-order absorption rate constant of 0.457 h−1. The population estimates of apparent oral clearance (CL/F) of atorvastatin acid to atorvastatin lactone, intercompartmental clearance (Q/F), apparent central compartment volume of distribution after oral administration (V1/F) and apparent peripheral compartment volume of distribution after oral administration (V2/F) for atorvastatin acid were 231 L/h, 315 L/h, 325 L and 4910 L, respectively. The population estimates of apparent total clearance of atorvastatin lactone (CLM/F), apparent intercompartmental clearance of atorvastatin lactone (QM/F) and apparent volume of distribution of atorvastatin lactone after oral administration (VM/F) were 85.4 L/h, 166 L/h and 249 L, respectively. The final covariate model indicated that the liver enzyme lactate dehydrogenase was related to CL/F and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) was related to Q/F. Importantly, diabetic patients have 3.56 times lower CLM/F than nondiabetic patients, indicating significantly lower clearance of atorvastatin lactone in these patients. Moreover, in a multivariate population pharmacokinetics model, diabetes status was the only significant covariate predicting the values of the CLM/F. Correspondingly, the concentration of atorvastatin acid remaining in the microsomal incubation was not significantly different between nondiabetic and diabetic liver samples, whereas the concentration of atorvastatin lactone was significantly higher in the samples from diabetic donors. In vitro studies, using recombinant enzymes, revealed that cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 is the major CYP enzyme responsible for the biotransformation of atorvastatin lactone.


These studies provide compelling evidence that the clearance of atorvastatin lactone is significantly reduced by diabetes, which leads to an increased concentration of this metabolite. This finding can be clinically valuable for diabetic transplant recipients who have additional co-morbidities and are on multiple medications.



We thank Professor F. Peter Guengerich (Centre in Molecular Toxicology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA) for his thorough review of the manuscript and constructive comments.

The American Heart Association, grant ♯0855761D, supported this study. Use of the RI-INBRE core facility was funded by grant P20RR016457 from the National Centre for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is gratefully acknowledged.

Dr Dostalek and Dr Sam contributed equally to this work. The authors declare no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miroslav Dostalek
    • 1
  • Wai-Johnn Sam
    • 1
  • Komal R. Paryani
    • 1
  • Joyce S. Macwan
    • 1
  • Reginald Y. Gohh
    • 2
  • Fatemeh Akhlaghi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Organ Transplantation, Rhode Island HospitalWarren Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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