Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(14):2704-2711. doi:10.7150/ijbs.42965


Pleiotropic use of Statins as non-lipid-lowering drugs

Qijia Zhang1, Jianlong Dong2, Ze Yu3✉

1. Digestive internal medicine and Department of infectious diseases, Zhuhai Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Zhuhai, China.
2. College of Life Science, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, China.
3. Affiliated Cancer Hospital and Institute of Guangzhou Medical University, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, Guangzhou, China.

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Zhang Q, Dong J, Yu Z. Pleiotropic use of Statins as non-lipid-lowering drugs. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(14):2704-2711. doi:10.7150/ijbs.42965. Available from

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Statins, known as HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) inhibitors, have primarily been utilized for metabolic and angiographic medical applications because of their cholesterol-lowering effects. Similar to other drugs, statins may also induce a series of potential side effects. Statins inhibit the HMGCR (rate-limiting enzyme) activity in early stages of mevalonate pathway and then indirectly affect a number of intermediate products, including non-sterol isoprenoids (coenzyme Q10, dolichol etc.), which can result in impaired functions of body organs. Recently, scores of studies have uncovered additional functional mechanisms of statins in other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, nervous system diseases, coronary heart disease, inflammation and cancers. This review aims to summarize the positive and adverse mechanisms of statin therapy. Statin care should be taken in the treatment of many diseases including cancers. Since the underlying mechanisms are not fully elucidated, future studies should spend more time and efforts on basic research to explore the mechanisms of statins.

Keywords: Statins, mevalonate pathway, non-lipid-lowering function, anticancer agents