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Statin-induced muscle mitochondrial toxicity Schick, Brian Adam


Statins are the mainstay of cholesterol-lowering therapy and are taken by millions of people worldwide. These drugs are generally well-tolerated but can cause myopathy ranging from mild muscle pain to fatal rhabdomyolysis. The mechanism of statin-induced myopathy (SIM) is not fully understood and there is currently no convenient and reliable marker of SIM, but mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated. We sought to investigate the effect of statins on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels in order to gain information on the mechanism of SIM and to explore the possibility of utilizing changing mtDNA levels as a marker of SIM. Several approaches were used. First, mtDNA levels were quantified in skeletal muscle biopsies collected from a previously published 8-week clinical trial of high-dose simvastatin or atorvastatin versus placebo. Forty-eight hypercholesterolemic subjects were randomly assigned to receive placebo (N=16), high dose atorvastatin 40mg/day (N=16), or high dose simvastatin 80mg/day (N=16) for 8 weeks. Muscle mtDNA content was assessed by real-time PCR atbaseline and after 8-weeks on statin treatment and found to be significantly reduced in the groupreceiving simvastatin (P=0.005) but not the other two. In addition, a significant positive correlation was observed between mtDNA and muscle ubiquinone in all groups (R=0.63, P

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