Statins Affect Skeletal Muscle Performance: Evidence for Disturbances in Energy Metabolism

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Jan 1;103(1):75-84. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-01561.


Context: Statin myopathy is linked to disturbances in mitochondrial function and exercise intolerance.

Objectives: To determine whether differences exist in exercise performance, muscle function, and muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity and content between symptomatic and asymptomatic statin users, and control subjects.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Department of Physiology, Radboud University Medical Center.

Participants: Long-term symptomatic and asymptomatic statin users, and control subjects (n = 10 per group).

Interventions: Maximal incremental cycling tests, involuntary electrically stimulated isometric quadriceps-muscle contractions, and biopsy of vastus lateralis muscle.

Main outcomes measured: Maximal exercise capacity, substrate use during exercise, muscle function, and mitochondrial energy metabolism.

Results: Peak oxygen uptake, maximal work load, and ventilatory efficiency were comparable between groups, but both statin groups had a depressed anaerobic threshold compared with the control group (P = 0.01). Muscle relaxation time was prolonged in both statin groups compared with the control group and rate of maximal force rise was decreased (Ptime×group < 0.001 for both measures). Mitochondrial activity of complexes II and IV was lower in symptomatic statin users than control subjects and tended to be lower for complex (C) III (CII: P = 0.03; CIII: P = 0.05; CIV: P = 0.04). Mitochondrial content tended to be lower in both statin groups than in control subjects.

Conclusion: Statin use attenuated substrate use during maximal exercise performance, induced muscle fatigue during repeated muscle contractions, and decreased muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity. This suggests disturbances in mitochondrial oxidative capacity occur with statin use even in patients without statin-induced muscle complaints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Exercise Tolerance / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors

Associated data

  • NTR/NTR5505