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A crossover comparison of the efficacy and safety of lovastatin and gemfibrozil in the treatment of hyperlipidemic organ transplant recipients.

Author(s): Hanes DS, Nicholson PG, Raval DD, Hooper FL, Behrens MT, Weir MR

Affiliation(s): University of Maryland Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

Publication date & source: 1997-02, Am J Ther., 4(2-3):85-91.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Hypercholesterolemia is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis in transplant recipients. It has been notoriously difficult to treat pharmacologically due to the complex interactions that occur with lipid-lowering drugs and immunosuppressive therapies. The purpose of the current study was to compare the efficacy and safety of a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor (lovastatin, 20 mg/d) with a fibric acid derivative (gemfibrozil, 600 mg twice a day). We used a randomized, crossover design in 18 solid organ transplant recipients who followed the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Guidelines diet for 8 weeks and had persistent elevations of total cholesterol (>240 mg/dL). Each patient received each therapy for a minimum of 8 weeks (mean 14.2 +/- 2.4, range 8-20 weeks). The participants had stable allograft function and were treated with a standard immunosuppressive regimen containing cyclosporine, prednisone, and azathioprine. Lovastatin therapy reduced the mean total cholesterol by 15.5% (271.9 mg/dL to 229.9 mg/dL; p = 0.02) and the mean low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 22.7% (178.2 mg/dL to 137.8 mg/dL; p = 0.07). There were no significant changes in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or triglycerides. Conversely, when these same patients were treated with gemfibrozil, the mean total cholesterol decreased by 7.9% (271.9 mg/dL to 250.5 mg/dL; p = NS) and the LDL cholesterol decreased by 5.1% (178.2 mg/dL to 169.1 mg/dL; p = NS). In addition, the mean triglyceride concentration decreased significantly by 46.1% (234.0 mg/dL to 126.3 mg/dL; p = 0.002) and the mean HDL cholesterol increased 15.4% (48.8 mg/dL to 56.3 mg/dL; p = 0.09). In all patients, the serum creatinine, hepatocellular enzymes, and creatinine phosphokinase remained stable. Lovastatin was discontinued in three patients for myalgias, one patient with unexplained anemia, and one patient with parasthesias. These results suggest that lovastatin and gemfibrozil are both safe and efficacious in transplant patients. However, neither therapy alone completely corrects abnormalities of high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol in transplant recipients.

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