Statin-associated autoimmune myopathy and anti-HMGCR autoantibodies

Muscle Nerve. 2013 Oct;48(4):477-83. doi: 10.1002/mus.23854. Epub 2013 Aug 30.


Statins are among the most commonly prescribed medications that significantly reduce cardiovascular risk in selected individuals. However, these drugs can also be associated with muscle symptoms ranging from mild myalgias to severe rhabdomyolysis. Although statin myotoxicity is usually self-limited, in some instances statin-exposed subjects can develop an autoimmune myopathy typically characterized by progressive weakness, muscle enzyme elevations, a necrotizing myopathy on muscle biopsy, and autoantibodies that recognize 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), the pharmacologic target of statins. These antibodies are also found in some autoimmune myopathy patients without statin exposure. Importantly, anti-HMGCR antibodies are not found in the vast majority of statin-exposed subjects without autoimmune myopathy, including those with self-limited statin intolerance. Thus, testing for these antibodies may help differentiate those with self-limited statin myopathy who recover after statin discontinuation from those with a progressive statin-associated autoimmune myopathy who typically require immunosuppressive therapy.

Keywords: HMG-CoA reductase; autoantibodies; myopathy; myositis; necrotizing; statins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Muscular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Muscular Diseases / immunology
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism


  • Autoantibodies
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors