Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 375–404

Drug Interactions at the Renal Level

Implications for Drug Development
Review Article Concepts

DOI: 10.2165/00003088-199834050-00004

Cite this article as:
Bonate, P.L., Reith, K. & Weir, S. Clin Pharmacokinet (1998) 34: 375. doi:10.2165/00003088-199834050-00004


The kidney plays a major role in the elimination of drugs. The purpose of this paper is to: (i) review the mechanisms of renal elimination; (ii) identify potential mechanisms for renal drug interactions; (iii) review in vitro and in vitro animal models for studying renal elimination mechanisms and identifying potential drug-drug interactions; (iv) review experimental designs used in identifying drug-drug interactions in humans with an emphasis on gaining information regarding the mechanism of the interaction; and (v) make recommendations regarding the potential for renal drug interactions in drug development.

It is concluded that clinically significant drug interactions resulting in toxicity because of some mechanism at the renal level appear to be relatively rare and that in vitro screening should not be done on all drugs during drug development. Five potential mechanisms exist for drug interactions at the renal level: (i) a displacement of bound drug resulting in an increase in drug excretion via an increase in glomerular filtration; (ii) competition at a tubular secretion site resulting in a decrease in drug excretion; (iii) competition at the tubular reabsorption site resulting in an increase in drug excretion; (iv) a change in urinary pH and/or flow that may increase or decrease drug excretion depending on the pKa of the drug; and (v) inhibition of renal drug metabolism.

The most well known renal drug interaction is competitive inhibition of tubular secretion, ultimately leading to an increase in plasma drug concentration. Only when renal clearance is a major contributor to the total clearance (>30%) and plasma concentrations are greater than the Michaelis-Menten transport constant does the potential exist for clinically significant renal drug-drug interactions because only then does nonlinear pharmacokinetics become evident. The potential for drug interactions is small when renal clearance is less than 20 to 30% of the total clearance and/or when plasma concentrations are less than the Michaelis-Menten transport constant, unless the drug has a narrow therapeutic window.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hoechst Marion RousselUS PharmacokineticsKansas CityUSA

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