Efficacy and pharmacokinetics of simvastatin in heart transplant recipients

C. Campana, I. Iacona, M. B. Regazzi, A. Gavazzi, G. Perani, V. Raddato, C. Montemartini, M. Vigano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of simvastatin administered to a group of heart transplant patients receiving triple-drug immunosuppressive therapy. We also assessed the potential pharmacokinetic interaction between simvastatin and cyclosporine by comparing mean plasma concentrations of simvastatin beta-hydroxy acid, the major metabolite of the drug, in a group of heart transplant patients treated with cyclosporine and in a control group of patients who had not received heart transplants. Both groups received long-term (>6 wk) simvastatin therapy. DESIGN: We monitored hyperlipidemia in 20 hypercholesterolemic heat transplant patients receiving simvastatin 10 mg/d and triple-drug immunosuppressive therapy. Changes in laboratory results before and after 4 months of simvastatin therapy were considered. The same laboratory data were monitored in a control group of 20 nonhypercholesterolemic heart transplant patients who were not treated with simvastatin but were receiving triple-drug immunosuppressive therapy. Plasma concentrations of simvastatin beta hydroxy acid were measured in 14 hypercholesterolemic patients, 7 of whom had received heart transplants and 7 who had not. SETTING: The Division of Cardiology and the First Medical Clinic for the clinical study, as well its the Department of Pharmacology for the pharmacokinetic analysis. PARTICIPANTS: Forty heart transplant patients and 7 hypercholesterolemic nontransplant patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Effectiveness of simvastatin was determined by comparing cholesterol and lipoprotein plasma concentrations in 20 patients who underwent heart transplant and were treated with simvastatin for 4 months. The safety of the drag was determined by analyzing changes in laboratory results in the treated group and in the control group, both those who had received heart transplants and those who had received immunosuppressive therapy. RESULTS: After 4 months of simvastatin therapy, total cholesterol decreased by 12.5% and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased by 21.3%. The only statistically significant laboratory change was an increase of 28.7% in the alanine aminotransferase concentrations. Plasma concentrations of simvastatin beta- hydroxy acid were higher in heart transplant patients than in those who had not received heart transplants, the control group. CONCLUSIONS: Low-dosage simvastatin treatment seems to be safe and sufficiently effective to decrease cholesterol concentrations. Concomitant treatment with immunosuppressive therapy (primarily cyclosporine) in heart transplant patients appeared to cause a reduced metabolic clearance of simvastatin from the plasma. More extensive studies on the interaction between simvastatin and cyclosporine are needed to understand the marked variability found in the response to simvastatin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-239
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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