British journal of clinical pharmacology

The effect of atorvastatin treatment on serum oxysterol concentrations and cytochrome P450 3A4 activity.

PMID 26095142


Atorvastatin is known to both inhibit and induce the cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) enzyme in vitro. Some clinical studies indicate that atorvastatin inhibits CYP3A4 but there are no well-controlled longer term studies that could evaluate the inducing effect of atorvastatin. We aimed to determine if atorvastatin induces or inhibits CYP3A4 activity as measured by the 4β-hydroxycholesterol to cholesterol ratio (4βHC : C). In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 6 month study we evaluated the effects of atorvastatin 20 mg day(-1) (n = 15) and placebo (n = 14) on oxysterol concentrations and determined if atorvastatin induces or inhibits CYP3A4 activity as assessed by the 4βHC : C index. The respective 25-hydroxycholesterol and 5α,6α-epoxycholesterol ratios were used as negative controls. Treatment with atorvastatin decreased 4βHC and 5α,6α-epoxycholesterol concentrations by 40% and 23%, respectively. The mean 4βHC : C ratio decreased by 13% (0.214 ± 0.04 to 0.182 ± 0.04, P = 0.024, 95% confidence interval (CI) of the difference -0.0595, -0.00483) in the atorvastatin group while no significant change occurred in the placebo group. The difference in change of 4βHC : C between study arms was statistically significant (atorvastatin -0.032, placebo 0.0055, P = 0.020, 95% CI of the difference -0.069, -0.0067). The ratios of 25-hydroxycholesterol and 5α,6α-epoxycholesterol to cholesterol did not change. The results establish atorvastatin as an inhibitor of CYP3A4 activity. Furthermore, 4βHC : C is a useful index of CYP3A4 activity, including the conditions with altered cholesterol concentrations.