Impact of cholesterol on ABC and SLC transporters expression and function and its role in disposition variability to lipid-lowering drugs

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This report focuses on the effects of cholesterol on the expression and function of the ATP-binding cassette (ABCB1, ABCG2 and ABCC2) and solute-linked carrier (SLCO1B1 and SLCO2B1) drug transporters with a particular focus on the potential impact of cholesterol on lipid-lowering drug disposition. Statins are the most active agents in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. However, considerable interindividual variation exists in the response to statin therapy. Therefore, it would be huge progress if factors were identified that reliably differentiate between responders and nonresponders. Many studies have suggested that plasma lipid concentrations can affect drug disposition of compounds, such as ciclosporin and amphotericin B. Both compounds are able to affect the expression and function of ABC transporters. Although still speculative, these effects might be owing to the regulation of drug transporters by plasma cholesterol levels. Studies with normo- and hyper-cholesterolemic individuals, before and after atorvastatin treatment, have demonstrated that plasma cholesterol levels are correlated with drug transporter expression, as well as being related to atorvastatin's cholesterol-lowering effect. The mechanism influencing the correlation between cholesterol levels and the expression and function of drug transporters remains unclear. Some studies provide strong evidence that nuclear receptors, such as the pregnane X receptor and the constitutive androstane receptor, mediate this effect. In the near future, pharmacogenomic studies with individuals in a pathological state should be performed in order to identify whether high plasma cholesterol levels might be a factor contributing to interindividual oral drug bioavailability.

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