Statins and Cholesterol Modulators
Many drugs aim to reduce plasma cholesterol levels, as this is the main component which causes atherosclerosis, being found in LDLs.
e.g. Simvastatin + Atorvastatin
These drugs inhibit cholesterol synthesis by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase.
– They can reduce total cholesterol by 30-50%.
– Reduced cholesterol synthesis in the liver leads to increased uptake from the blood, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels
– To maximise their effectiveness, it is often recommended that statins are taken in the evening, as most cholesterol synthesis occurs at night
Statins also have pleiotropic effects:
– Improvement of endothelial function
– Decrease inflammation
– Decrease stroke and cancer risk
– Aid immune system
Gastrointestinal disturbance -> constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, nausea, dyspepsia
Hepatic toxicity –> deranged LFTs, hepatitis, jaundice, hepatic failure
Muscle toxicity –> elevated CK with rhabdomyolysis
Hyperglycaemia and development of diabetes mellitus in at-risk individuals
According to NICE CKS1:
– Baseline blood tests before starting statins should include:
– Full lipid profile, LFTs, renal function, HbA1c, TSH
(+ Creatinine Kinase only if the patient has persistent, generalised unexplained muscle pain)
Follow-up blood tests after starting statins should include:
– Full lipid profile after 3 months –> to determine effectiveness of treatment
– LFTs after 3 months and 12 months –> stop if >3x the upper limit of the normal range
Metabolism of statins involves the cytochrome enzyme CYP3A4.
Do not co-prescribe with CYP3A4 inhibitors –> macrolides (clarithromycin, erythromycin), azole antifungals, HIV protease inhibitors
Pregnancy -> due to reports of congenital anomalies
Active liver disease
e.g. Fenofibrate + Gemfibrozil
VLDLs and chylomicrons can be catabolised by the liver.
– This process is regulated by peroxisome proliferating activating receptors, which upregulate the enzyme lipoprotein lipase.
– Fibrates therefore activate PPARs, increasing HDLs whilst decreasing LDLs.
– HDLs are protective against atherosclerosis as they reduce blood cholesterol levels
Can displace other albumin bound drugs like warfarin
This inhibits triglyceride and VLDL secretion in high doses
– In low levels, it is used to treat pellagra, a disease caused by low niacin (Vitamin B3 levels)
This inhibits intestinal absorption of cholesterol by targeting Niemann-Pick transporter.
– It circulates enterohepatically, redelivered to intestine so works again
– It is mainly used in hypercholesterolaemia patients who cannot tolerate statin therapy
This is an anion exchange resin which binds bile salts and prevents them from being reabsorbed by the intestine.
– Therefore, leads to an increase in cholesterol breakdown in liver to synthesise more bile salts.
– It is also used in diseases like primary biliary cirrhosis to stop pruritus which is caused by excessive levels of bile salts irritating the skin.
GI disturbance (constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting)
Reduced absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K)