The statins that reduce cholesterol production also reduce levels of coenzyme Q10, research has shown. Coenzyme Q10 is needed in cells to help create energy and perform other important functions. And this study showed in laboratory analysis that if coenzyme Q10 is supplemented to cells, it prevents the reduction in GLUT4 induced by the statins.
Not all statin drugs, however, appear to cause a reduction in GLUT4.
The problems were found with one statin, simvastatin, that is "lipophilic," which means it can more easily move through the cell membrane. Some of the most commonly used statins are lipophilic, including simvastatin, atorvastatin, and lovastatin. All of these statins are now available as generic drugs, and high dosage levels have been most often linked with the increase in diabetes.
Tests in the new study done with a "hydrophilic" statin, in this case pravastatin, did not cause reduced levels of GLUT4. Pravastatin is also available as a generic drug.
"The concern about increasing levels of diabetes is important," Ito said. "We need to better understand why this is happening. There's no doubt that statins can reduce cardiovascular events, from 25-45 percent, and are very valuable drugs in the battle against heart disease. It would be significant if it turns out that use of coenzyme Q10 can help offset the concerns about statin use and diabetes."
Before that conclusion can be reached, the researchers said, additional studies are needed on coenzyme Q10 supplementation and the pathogenesis of statin-induced diabetes.
|Contact: Matthew K. Ito|
Oregon State University