Statins, the wildly popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, may interact with at least one blood pressure drug to damage the mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
The mitochondria are structures in cells that make adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which helps power cells. MoothaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team tested more than 2,000 drugs on cells to see how they might interfere with this process. Their test looks at gene function, ATP levels and other measures of how well the mitochondria are working.
Many patients who take statins have reported side-effects that include muscle pain and weakness. The cause is not well understood but Mootha has long suspected the mitochondria are involved.
The effects have been hard to pin down because studies of different groups have produced conflicting results. MoothaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team said their findings showed some statins lower ATP levels and interfere with the mitochondria.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of the six statins present in our screening collection, three (fluvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin) produced strong decreases in cellular ATP levels and (mitochondrial) activity,Ã¢â‚¬Â they wrote. Fluvastatin is sold by Novartis under the brand name Lescol, lovastatin is sold under the brand name Mevacor and simvaststin is sold as Zocor.
Three others Ã¢â‚¬â€atorvastatin, made by Pfizer under the brand name Lipitor, pravastatin or Pravachol, made by Bristol Myers Squibb and rosuvastatin, sold under the Crestor brand name by AstraZeneca Ã¢â‚¬â€had little effect, they said.