Electrophysiologic and clinico-pathologic characteristics of statin-induced muscle injury

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Al-Nahrain University, Baghdad, Iraq

2 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Al-Nahrain University, Baghdad, Iraq


Objective(s):In this study, we aimed at evaluation of electrophysiological and histopathalogical characteristics of statin-induced muscle injury as well as clinical features of patients who develop this condition in terms of frequency and pattern of evolution.
Materials and Methods: Forty patients (age 39-74 years) including 25 subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 9 with cardiovascular diseases and 6 with hyperlipidemia,  who were receiving atrovastatin 40 mg/day for variable period, were studied. Thirty three healthy subjects (age 31-74 years) served as control group. Creatine phosphokinease level, thyroid function, motor unit potential parameters and muscle fiber conduction velocity of biceps brachii and tibialis anterior muscles were measured.
Results: Creatine phosphokinase level was elevated in statin users, particularly in those with diabetes mellitus. Less than 50% of statinusers experienced symptoms related to muscle injury. Muscle fiber conduction velocity of the biceps brachii muscle was significantly reduced. Statinusers with diabetes mellitus showed significant changes in electrophysiological parameters as compared to those with cardiovascular diseases and hyperlipidemia. Muscle biopsies showed muscle fiber variation in size, fibrosis and mild inflammatory cell infiltration. Immunohistochemical evaluation of muscle biopsies showed positive expression of Bcl-2 and one patient showed positive P53 immunohistochemical expression with elevated level of creatine phosphokinase.
Conclusion: Atorvastatin increased average creatine kinase, suggesting, statins produce mild muscle injury even in asymptomatic subjects. Diabetic statin users were more prone to develop muscle injury than others. Muscle fiber conduction velocity evaluation is recommended as a simple and reliable test to diagnose statin-induced myopathy instead of invasive muscle biopsy.


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