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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 127043, 10 pages
Research Article

Interaction between Red Yeast Rice and CYP450 Enzymes/P-Glycoprotein and Its Implication for the Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Lovastatin

1School of Pharmacy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100, Taiwan
2School of Pharmacy, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 100, Taiwan
3Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital and College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100, Taiwan

Received 29 May 2012; Revised 13 September 2012; Accepted 3 October 2012

Academic Editor: Alfredo Vannacci

Copyright © 2012 Chia-Hao Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Red yeast rice (RYR) can reduce cholesterol through its active component, lovastatin. This study was to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of lovastatin in RYR products and potential RYR-drug interactions. Extracts of three registered RYR products (LipoCol Forte, Cholestin, and Xuezhikang) were more effective than pure lovastatin in inhibiting the activities of cytochrome P450 enzymes and P-glycoprotein. Among CYP450 enzymes, RYR showed the highest inhibition on CYP1A2 and CYP2C19, with comparable inhibitory potencies to the corresponding typical inhibitors. In healthy volunteers taking the RYR product LipoCol Forte, the pharmacokinetic properties of lovastatin and lovastatin acid were linear in the dose range of 1 to 4 capsules taken as a single dose and no significant accumulation was observed after multiple dosing. Concomitant use of one LipoCol Forte capsule with nifedipine did not change the pharmacokinetics of nifedipine. Yet, concomitant use of gemfibrozil with LipoCol Forte resulted in a significant increase in the plasma concentration of lovastatin acid. These findings suggest that the use of RYR products may not have effects on the pharmacokinetics of concomitant comedications despite their effects to inhibit the activities of CYP450 enzymes and P-gp, whereas gemfibrozil affects the pharmacokinetics of lovastatin acid when used concomitantly with RYR products.