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A Neuromuscular Approach to Statin-Related Myotoxicity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2014

Steven K. Baker
The Department of Medicine, Neuromuscular Disease Clinic, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Imtiaz A. Samjoo
The Department of Medicine, Neuromuscular Disease Clinic, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Approximately 95% of statin-treated patients tolerate this form of cholesterol management without any adverse effects. However, given their efficacy in reducing low density lipoproteins and cardiovascular events large numbers of patients are selected for statin therapy. Therefore muscle complications are, in fact, quite common. Limited understanding of the underlying pathophysiology has hampered physicians' ability to identify patients at risk for developing statin myotoxicity. A growing number of published case reports/series have implicated statins in the exacerbation of both acquired and genetic myopathies. A clinical management algorithm is presented which outlines a variety of co-morbidities which can potentiate the adverse effects of statins on muscle. In addition, a rational approach to the selection of those patients most likely to benefit from skeletal muscle biopsy is discussed. Ongoing work will define the extent to which statin-intolerant patients represent carriers of recessive metabolic myopathies or pre-symptomatic acquired myopathies. The expanding importance of pharmacogenomics will undoubtedly be realized in the field of statin myopathy research within the next few years. Such critical information is needed to establish more definitive management and diagnostic strategies.



Près de 95% des patients qui reçoivent une statine tolèrent bien ce traitement hypocholestérolémiant, sans réactions indésirables. Cependant, les complications musculaires sont relativement fréquentes parce qu'un grand nombre de patients reçoivent ce traitement à cause de son efficacité pour abaisser le taux de lipoprotéines de faible densité et pour diminuer l'incidence d'événements cardiovasculaires. Comme on connaîmal leur pathophysiologie, il est difficile d'identifier les patients à risque de développer une myotoxicité sous statine. Il y a de plus en plus de cas ou de séries de cas rapportés qui impliquent les statines dans l'exacerbation de myopathies tant acquises que génétiques. Nous présentons un algorithme concernant la conduite à tenir le cas échéant, qui énumère différentes co-morbidités pouvant potentialiser les effets indésirables des statines sur le muscle. De plus, nous discutons d'une démarche rationnelle pour identifier les patients qui sont les plus susceptibles de bénéficier d'une biopsie musculaire. Les travaux en cours permettront de défmir dans quelle mesure les patients qui sont intolérants aux statines sont porteurs de myopathies métaboliques récessives ou de myopathies acquises pré-symptomatiques. L'importance croissante de la pharmacogénomique jouera sans doute un rôle dans le domaine de la recherche sur la myopathie due aux statines dans les prochaines années. Cette information est d'une grande importance pour établir des stratégies de diagnostic et de traitement.

Review Article
Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological 2008


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