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19-08-2013 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Statins could be ‘novel therapy for asthma’


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medwireNews: Researchers from the USA say that there may be certain patients with asthma who could benefit from the addition of statins to their inhaler therapy.

The authors retrospectively analyzed the outcomes of 165 patients treated for severe asthma at their clinic between 2001 and 2008. Overall, 31 were statin users with a median treatment duration of 1 year.

Statin users were older than non-users, had a greater prevalence of comorbidities, and had worse lung function, reports the team, led by Amir Zeki (University of California, Sacramento).

However, after adjusting for confounders, they found that statin users had significantly better asthma control than did non-users, with asthma control test (ACT) scores on average 2.2 points higher.

Several other factors were independent predictors for a lower ACT score, such as smoking, associated with a reduction of 4.04 points, obesity with a 2.1-point reduction, and gastroesophageal reflux disease with a 2.6-point reduction. Conversely, with each 1 L increase in forced vital capacity, the ACT score increased by 2.2 points.

The authors note that a previous study indicated that a 2-point reduction in ACT score is associated with a 46% increased risk for rescue medication use, and a 21% increased risk for exacerbations, suggesting that the difference in ACT score for statin users could have a clinically meaningful protective effect.

Writing in BMJ Open, the researchers explain that statins have been linked to improved lung function in epidemiologic studies and have been shown in animal studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-remodelling, and immunomodulatory effects in the lung. But, to date, clinical trials have failed to confirm benefits in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma.

Zeki and colleagues acknowledge that the retrospective nature of their study limits their conclusions. However, they say the possibility that severe asthma patients are a target population for statin treatment is an area “ripe for additional investigations.”

They add: “Given the pleiotropic biological effects, widespread use and reasonable safety record of statins, they may be a potential novel therapy for asthma.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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