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Volume 3 (2003), Pages 1332-1343
Research Article

Differences Between Lovastatin and Simvastatin Hydrolysis in Healthy Male and Female Volunteers: Gut Hydrolysis of Lovastatin is Twice that of Simvastatin

Institute for Anaesthesiology, University Medical Centre Nijmegen Sint Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Copyright © 2003 Tom B. Vree et al.


The aim of this pharmacokinetic evaluation was to show the effect of the extra methyl group in simvastatin on esterase hydrolysis between lovastatin and simvastatin in male and female volunteers. This study was based on the plasma concentration-time curves and the pharmacokinetics of lovastatin and simvastatin with its respective active metabolite statin-β-hydroxy acid obtained from two different bioequivalence studies, each with 18 females and 18 males. Results were: 1-The group of female volunteers showed a higher yield of the active metabolite β-hydroxy acid than the group of males (p < 0.002) for both lovastatin and simvastatin. This difference was not related to the body weight of both groups. 2-In the male/female groups, subject-dependent yield of active metabolite β-hydroxy acid was demonstrated, which was independent of the formulation. The variation in plasma/liver hydrolysis resulted in a fan-shaped distribution of data points when the AUCt lovastatin was plotted vs. that of the β-hydroxy acid metabolite. In the fan of data points, subgroups could be distinguished, each showing a different regression line and with a different Y-intercept (AUCtβ-hydroxy acid). 3-Lovastatin hydrolysis was higher than simvastatin hydrolysis. 4-It was possible to discriminate between hydrolysis of both lovastatin and simvastatin by plasma/liver or tissue esterase activity.

The three subgroups of subjects (males/females) showing different but high yield of statin β-hydroxy acid can be explained by variable hydrolysis of plasma and hepatic microsomal and cytosolic carboxyesterase activity.

This study showed clearly that despite the subject-dependent hydrolysis of lovastatin/simvastatin to the active metabolite, males tend to hydrolyse less than females. The extra methyl group in simvastatin results in less hydrolysis due to steric hindrance.