Statins: panacea for sepsis?

Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Science Centre, Toronto, Canada.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 19.45). 05/2006; 6(4):242-8. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(06)70439-X
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sepsis occurs when the immune system responds to a localised infection at a systemic level, thereby causing tissue damage and organ dysfunction. Statins have proven health benefits in many diseases involving vascular inflammation and injury. Recent animal data suggest that the administration of a statin before a sepsis-inducing insult reduces morbidity and improves survival. The immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of statins, collectively referred to as pleiotropic effects, lend biological plausibility to such findings. Limited human data hint at reduced mortality rates in bacteraemic patients, and a reduced risk of sepsis in patients with bacterial infections concurrently taking statins. These lines of evidence point to a potential new treatment and prevention modality for sepsis. The stage is set for randomised controlled clinical trials that will determine whether statins represent a safe and beneficial treatment in critically ill, septic patients and whether statins are effective at preventing sepsis in high-risk clinical settings.


Available from: Marius Terblanche, Apr 21, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Background Studies in animals and in vitro and phase 2 studies in humans suggest that statins may be beneficial in the treatment of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This study tested the hypothesis that treatment with simvastatin would improve clinical outcomes in patients with ARDS. Methods In this multicenter, double-blind clinical trial, we randomly assigned (in a 1:1 ratio) patients with an onset of ARDS within the previous 48 hours to receive enteral simvastatin at a dose of 80 mg or placebo once daily for a maximum of 28 days. The primary outcome was the number of ventilator-free days to day 28. Secondary outcomes included the number of days free of nonpulmonary organ failure to day 28, mortality at 28 days, and safety. Results The study recruited 540 patients, with 259 patients assigned to simvastatin and 281 to placebo. The groups were well matched with respect to demographic and baseline physiological variables. There was no significant difference between the study groups in the mean (±SD) number of ventilator-free days (12.6±9.9 with simvastatin and 11.5±10.4 with placebo, P=0.21) or days free of nonpulmonary organ failure (19.4±11.1 and 17.8±11.7, respectively; P=0.11) or in mortality at 28 days (22.0% and 26.8%, respectively; P=0.23). There was no significant difference between the two groups in the incidence of serious adverse events related to the study drug. Conclusions Simvastatin therapy, although safe and associated with minimal adverse effects, did not improve clinical outcomes in patients with ARDS. (Funded by the U.K. National Institute for Health Research Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme and others; HARP-2 Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN88244364 .).
    New England Journal of Medicine 09/2014; 371(18). DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa1403285 · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sepsis is a complex disease with typically poor outcomes. While the onset of sepsis is typically infectious, the detrimental consequences follow pathogen toxin release that produces activation of numerous cytokines and a pro-inflammatory response. These same cytokines also stimulate activation of coagulation and inhibit natural fibrinolysis. Despite decades of research targeted against these pathways the development of sepsis and mortality in patients with sepsis remains high. While statins were developed for reducing cholesterol in patients with atherosclerotic disease, we now know they have a number of other properties which may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of sepsis. Statins have demonstrated the ability to reduce a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines known to be detrimental in the development and progression of sepsis. Statins have also demonstrated the ability to limit the coagulation response and promote fibrinolysis in the setting of sepsis. Based on these encouraging pharmacologic properties of statins a number of trials have been conducted evaluating the impact of statins on the prevention and treatment of sepsis. Most of the trials to date have been retrospective cohort trials, with very few prospective randomized trials. While some trials fail to demonstrate a benefit of statins, most trials suggest a reduction in the development of sepsis and/or other important sepsis related outcomes. While the laboratory and early clinical experience with statins are encouraging, randomized controlled trials will be need to fully define the role of statins in the prevention and treatment of sepsis.
    Pharmacological Research 04/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.phrs.2014.04.010 · 3.98 Impact Factor