Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham report that simvastatin at higher doses may affect the ability of the skeletal muscles to repair and regenerate themselves. They were examining the proliferative capacity of human satellite cells (SCs) in culture.
At approximately 5.0 M concentration (equivalent to the availability of simvastatin in circulation from a 40 milligram dose per day of simvastatin that some patients take), SC proliferation was reduced by 50%, according to the researchers.
The team used primary cell lines isolated from quadriceps muscle biopsies. SC were mixed and grown for 48 hours with several concentrations of statin: 0.0, 0 plus the solvent DMSO (control), 0.05, 0.1, 1.0, 10, or 100 M. The MTS assay was utilized to measure cell viability/reproducibility. Additionally the investigators determined the effects of varying concentrations of simvastatin on SCs in different states (i.e., undergoing differentiation or differentiated into myotubes).
Though there was no change in the capability of SC at concentrations of 0.05 or 0.1 M, there was a dose-dependent decrease in the viability of the satellite cells at 1.0, 10, and 100 M concentrations of simvastatin. Additionally, the viability was reduced by approximately half in differentiating cells and myotubes with concentrations of 1.0 and 5.0 M, respectively.
The team is now looking at effects in an older population, where the adverse affects of statins could be under-reported because adults may not be able to distinguish between muscle pain related to a statin effect and a pain associated with the normal effect of aging.
The findings will be presented at the American Physiological Society conference, being held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC.