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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1990 Aug;48(2):120-9.

The erythromycin breath test as a predictor of cyclosporine blood levels.

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Department of Medicine, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0682.


The daily dose of cyclosporine required to attain a desired blood level can vary greatly among patients. Because elimination of cyclosporine depends on its metabolism in the liver by an enzyme (cytochrome P-450IIIA) that also demethylates erythromycin, we reasoned that the ability of patients to demethylate a test dose of erythromycin might be useful in estimating their appropriate daily doses of cyclosporine. Accordingly, the [14C-N-methyl] erythromycin breath test was administered to 32 patients before they received 3.0, 5.0, or 7.5 mg/kg/day cyclosporine to treat psoriasis. We found that a simple mathematical equation incorporating just the 14CO2 production, the age of the patient, and the daily dose of cyclosporine accounted for almost 80% (R2 = 0.78) of the interpatient variability in cyclosporine blood levels we observed. Our data indicate that P-450IIIA activity largely accounts for the relationship between dose of cyclosporine and blood levels for an individual patient. We conclude that the erythromycin breath test may be a convenient guide for cyclosporine dosing.

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