Simvastatin improves mitochondrial respiration in peripheral blood cells

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Statins are prescribed to treat hypercholesterolemia and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, statin users frequently report myalgia, which can discourage physical activity or cause patients to discontinue statin use, negating the potential benefit of the treatment. Although a proposed mechanism responsible for Statin-Associated Myopathy (SAM) suggests a correlation with impairment of mitochondrial function, the relationship is still poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that long-term treatment of hypercholesterolemic patients with Simvastatin at a therapeutic dose significantly display increased mitochondrial respiration in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and platelets compared to untreated controls. Furthermore, the amount of superoxide is higher in mitochondria in PBMCs, and platelets from Simvastatin-treated patients than in untreated controls, and the abundance of mitochondrial superoxide, but not mitochondrial respiration trends with patient-reported myalgia. Ubiquinone (also known as coenzyme Q10) has been suggested as a potential treatment for SAM; however, an 8-week course of oral ubiquinone had no impact on mitochondrial functions or the abundance of superoxide in mitochondria from PBMCs, and platelets. These results demonstrate that long-term treatment with Simvastatin increases respiration and the production of superoxide in mitochondria of PBMCs and platelets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17012
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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