Effects of systemic treatment with statins on skin barrier function and stratum corneum water-holding capacity

Dermatology. 1996;192(3):214-6. doi: 10.1159/000246368.


Background: Topical application of inhibitors of HMGCoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol synthesis, has been shown to induce impairment of barrier function.

Objective: Assessing whether oral administration of statins used for reducing blood levels of cholesterol induces functional changes in stratum corneum barrier.

Materials and methods: 69 subjects of both sexes under-going treatment for hypercholesterolemia (mean age 48 +/- 11 years) entered the study; 43 had been treated with simvastatin and 11 with pravastatin for 6 months; 15 only on dietary regimen served as controls. Efficiency of stratum corneum water barrier was evaluated by transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurement using an evaporimeter; water-holding capacity of the stratum corneum was assessed by the sorption-desorption test measured by capacitance. Statistical analysis was performed using ANOVA.

Results: No differences were found between the groups (simvastatin, pravastatin, diet) concerning both basal TEWL and the dynamic of water binding in the stratum corneum.

Conclusions: Prolonged treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs based on inhibition of HMGCoA reductase does not alter the permeability barrier of the skin.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Epidermis / drug effects*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Hypercholesterolemia / pathology
  • Lovastatin / administration & dosage
  • Lovastatin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Lovastatin / pharmacology
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pravastatin / administration & dosage
  • Pravastatin / pharmacology*
  • Pravastatin / therapeutic use
  • Simvastatin
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects*
  • Water Loss, Insensible / physiology


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Lovastatin
  • Simvastatin
  • Pravastatin