Pharmacology: Pharmacodynamics: Atorvastatin, as well as some of its metabolites, are pharmacologically active in humans. The liver is the primary site of action and the principal site of cholesterol synthesis and LDL clearance. Drug dosage, rather than systemic drug concentration, correlates better with LDL-C reduction. Individualization of drug dosage should be based on therapeutic response.
Mechanism of Action: Atorvastatin is a selective, competitive inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme that converts 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A to mevalonate, a precursor of sterols, including cholesterol. Cholesterol and triglycerides circulate in the bloodstream as part of lipoprotein complexes. With ultracentrifugation, these complexes separate into HDL (high-density lipoprotein), IDL (intermediate-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) fractions. Triglycerides (TG) and cholesterol in the liver are incorporated into VLDL and released into the plasma for delivery to peripheral tissues. LDL is formed from VLDL and is catabolized primarily through the high-affinity LDL receptor. Clinical and pathologic studies show that elevated plasma levels of total cholesterol (total-C), LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C), and apolipoprotein B (apo B) promote human atherosclerosis and are risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, while increased levels of HDL-C are associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk.
In animal models, atorvastatin lowers plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein levels by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase and cholesterol synthesis in the liver and by increasing the number of hepatic LDL receptors on the cell surface to enhance uptake and catabolism of LDL; atorvastatin also reduces LDL production and the number of LDL particles. Atorvastatin reduces LDL-C in some patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a population that rarely responds to other lipid-lowering medication(s).
A variety of clinical studies have demonstrated that elevated levels of total-C, LDL-C, and apo B (a membrane complex for LDL-C) promote human atherosclerosis. Similarly, decreased levels of HDL-C (and its transport complex, apo A) are associated with the development of atherosclerosis. Epidemiologic investigations have established that cardiovascular morbidity and mortality vary directly with the levels of total-C and LDL-C, and inversely with the level of HDL-C.
Atorvastatin reduces total-C, LDL-C, and apo B in patients with homozygous and heterozygous FH, nonfamilial forms of hypercholesterolemia, and mixed dyslipidemia. Atorvastatin also reduces VLDL-C and TG and produces variable increases in HDL-C and apolipoprotein A-1. Atorvastatin reduces total-C, LDL-C, apo B, TG and non-HDL-C, and increases HDL-C in patients with isolated hypertriglyceridemia. Atorvastatin reduces intermediate density lipoprotein cholesterol (IDL-C) in patients with dysbetalipoproteinemia.
Like LDL, cholesterol-enriched triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, including VLDL, intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), and remains, can also promote atherosclerosis. Elevated plasma triglycerides are frequently found in triad with low HDL-C levels and small LDL particles, as well as in association with non-lipid metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease. AS such, total plasma TG has not consistently been shown to be an independent risk factor for CHD. Furthermore, the independent effect of raising HDL or lowering TG on the risk of coronary and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been determined.
Pharmacokinetics: Absorption: Atorvastatin is rapidly absorbed after oral administration; maximum plasma concentrations occur within 1 to 2 hours. Extent of absorption increases in proportion to atorvastatin dose. Atorvastatin tablets are bioequivalent to atorvastatin solutions. The absolute bioavailability of atorvastatin is approximately 12% and the systemic availability of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity is approximately 30%. The low systemic availability is attributed to presystemic clearance in gastrointestinal mucosa and/or hepatic first-pass metabolism.
Distribution: Mean volume of distribution of atorvastatin is approximately 381 L. Atorvastatin is 98% bound to plasma proteins.
Metabolism: Atorvastatin is metabolised by cytochrome P450 3A4 to ortho- and parahydroxylated derivatives and various beta-oxidation products. In vitro, inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase by ortho and parahydroxylated metabolites is equivalent to that of atorvastatin. Approximately 70% of circulating inhibitory activity for HMF-CoA reductase is attributed to active metabolites.
Excretion: Atorvastatin and atorvastatin metabolites are substrates of P-glycoprotein. Atorvastatin is eliminated primarily in bile following hepatic and/or extrahepatic metabolism. However, the drug does not appear to undergo significant enterohepatic recirculation. Mean plasma elimination half-life of atorvastatin in humans is approximately 14 hours. The half-life of inhibitory activity for HMGCoA reductase is approximately 20 to 30 hours to the contribution of active metabolites.
Special Populations: Geriatric: Plasma concentrations of atorvastatin are higher in healthy elderly subjects than in young adults while the lipid effects were comparable to those seen in younger patient populations.
Pediatric: Pharmacokinetic data in the pediatric population are not available.
Gender: Plasma concentrations of atorvastatin in women differ from those in men (approximately 20% higher for Cmax and 10% lower for AUC); however, there is no clinically significant difference in LDL-C reduction with atorvastatin between men and women.
Renal Impairment: Renal disease has no influence on the plasma concentrations or LDL-C reduction of atorvastatin; thus, dose adjustment in patients with renal dysfunction is not necessary.
Hemodialysis: While studies have not been conducted in patients with end-stage renal disease, hemodialysis is not expected to significantly enhance clearance of atorvastatin since the drug is extensively bound to plasma proteins.
Hepatic Impairment: In patients with chronic alcoholic liver disease, plasma concentrations of atorvastatin are markedly increased. Cmax and AUC are each 4-fold greater in patients with Child-Pugh A disease. Cmax and AUC is approximately 16-fold and 11fold increased, respectively, in patients with Child-Pugh B disease.
Toxicology: Preclinical safety data: Atorvastatin was not carcinogenic in rats. The maximum dose used was 63fold higher than the highest human dose (80 mg/day) on an mg/kg body-weight basis and 8 to 16fold higher based on AUC(024) values as determined by total inhibitory activity. In a 2year study in mice, incidences of hepatocellular adenoma in males and hepatocellular carcinomas in females were increased at the maximum dose used, and the maximum dose used was 250fold higher than the highest human dose on an mg/kg body-weight basis. Systematic exposure was 6 to 11fold higher base on AUC(024). Atorvastatin did not demonstrate mutagenic or clastogenic potential in 4 in vitro tests with and without metabolic activation and in 1 in vivo assay.