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No relevant interaction with alprazolam, caffeine, tolbutamide, and digoxin by treatment with a low-hyperforin St John's wort extract.

Author(s): Arold G, Donath F, Maurer A, Diefenbach K, Bauer S, Henneicke-von Zepelin HH, Friede M, Roots I

Affiliation(s): Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, University Medical Center Charite, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

Publication date & source: 2005-04, Planta Med., 71(4):331-7.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

We evaluated the pharmacokinetic interaction between a low-hyperforin St John's wort (SJW) extract and alprazolam, caffeine, tolbutamide, and digoxin. Previous reports on other SJW products had shown remarkably decreased plasma concentrations of certain co-medicated drugs, which was attributed to an inducing effect of SJW on cytochrome P-450 (CYP) and p-glycoprotein (p-gp) activity. Two randomised, placebo-controlled studies were performed with 28 healthy volunteers (age 18 - 55 years) in each study. In study A, single doses of alprazolam (1 mg; substrate of CYP3A4) and caffeine (100 mg; CYP1A2) were given on days 1 and 11. In study B, single doses of tolbutamide (500 mg, days 1 and 11; CYP2C9) and multiple doses of digoxin (0.75 mg on days -2 and -1, 0.25 mg/die on days 1 to 11; p-gp) were given. The participants received SJW (Esbericum capsules; 240 mg/die of extract, 3.5 mg hyperforin) or placebo on days 2 to 11. Blood for pharmacokinetic analysis was drawn on days 1 and 11. No statistically significant differences were found in the primary kinetic parameter, AUC0 - 24, of alprazolam, caffeine (AUC0 - 12), paraxanthine, tolbutamide, 4-hydroxytolbutamide, and digoxin between the placebo group and the SJW group at the end of the study. The SJW-induced change in AUCs was less than 12 % of the initial median AUC of the participants in studies A and B, thus clinically irrelevant. On day 11, trough concentrations were 2.0 (range 0.6 - 4.1) microg/L and 1.0 (0.2 - 3.9) microg/L for hypericin and pseudohypericin, respectively, whereas hyperforin concentrations were below the quantification limit (< 1 microg/L). Kinetics of investigated probe drugs were only marginally influenced by concomitant treatment with Esbericum capsules. This may be due in particular to the low hyperforin plasma concentration as this SJW component has been shown to activate the PXR receptor which regulates expression of CYP3A4 and p-gp. Our findings corroborate the view that reports about interactions of other SJW extracts seem not to be predictive for the product we studied.

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