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Organic anion transporting polypeptide 1B1 (OATP1B1) is an uptake transporter located at the sinusoidal membrane of human hepatocytes. This study aimed to investigate the effects of genetic polymorphism in the SLCO1B1 gene encoding OATP1B1 on the pharmacokinetics of simvastatin.Four healthy volunteers with the homozygous SLCO1B1 c.521CC genotype, 12 with the heterozygous c.521TC genotype and 16 with the homozygous c.521TT genotype (controls) were recruited. Each study participant ingested a single 40-mg dose of simvastatin. Plasma concentrations of simvastatin (inactive lactone) and its active metabolite simvastatin acid were measured for 12 h.The AUC0–∞ of simvastatin acid was 120 and 221% higher in participants with the SLCO1B1 c.521CC genotype than in those with the c.521TC and c.521TT (reference) genotypes, respectively (P<0.001). The Cmax of simvastatin acid was 162 and 200% higher in participants with the c.521CC genotype than in those with the c.521TC and c.521TT genotypes (P<0.001). The Cmax of simvastatin acid occurred earlier in participants with the c.521CC and c.521TC genotypes than in those with the c.521TT genotype (P<0.05). No association existed between the SLCO1B1 genotype and the elimination half-life of simvastatin acid. Moreover, no statistically significant association was seen between the SLCO1B1 genotype and the pharmacokinetics of simvastatin lactone.SLCO1B1 polymorphism markedly affects the pharmacokinetics of active simvastatin acid, but has no significant effect on parent simvastatin. Raised plasma concentrations of simvastatin acid in patients carrying the SLCO1B1 c.521C variant allele may enhance the risk of systemic adverse effects during simvastatin treatment. In addition, reduced uptake of simvastatin acid by OATP1B1 into the liver in patients with the c.521C allele could reduce its cholesterol-lowering efficacy.