Why Do Statins Sometimes Cause Muscle Problems?

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Statins are widely used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Like a lot of drugs, statins come with some side effects. Myopathy, in the form of muscle weakness, pain and cramps is one of the most important adverse effects. A group of researchers from¬†Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands may have found out why statins can sometimes cause muscle problems. Their findings are published in this month’s issue of Cell Metabolism.

They found that statins can significantly inhibit mitochondrial (complex III) activity. This effect is primarily from statin lactones rather than the acid forms. These findings could lead to new classes of cholesterol-lowering drugs without the unwanted muscle effects.