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Infectious Diseases - Pharmacology - Respiratory Medicine

Studies on the Antibacterial Effects of Statins - In Vitro and In Vivo
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Author: Peter Bergman et al.

by Peter Bergman, Charlotte Linde, Katrin Pütsep, Anton Pohanka, Staffan Normark, Birgitta Henriques-Normark, Jan Andersson, Linda Björkhem-Bergman


Statin treatment has been associated with a beneficial outcome on respiratory tract infections. In addition, previous in vitro and in vivo experiments have indicated favorable effects of statins in bacterial infections.


The aim of the present study was to elucidate possible antibacterial effects of statins against primary pathogens of the respiratory tract.


MIC-values for simvastatin, fluvastatin and pravastatin against S. pneumoniae, M. catarrhalis and H. influenzae were determined by traditional antibacterial assays. A BioScreen instrument was used to monitor effects of statins on bacterial growth and to assess possible synergistic effects with penicillin. Bacterial growth in whole blood and serum from healthy volunteers before and after a single dose of simvastatin, fluvastatin and penicillin (positive control) was determined using a blood culture system (BactAlert).


The MIC-value for simvastatin against S pneumoniae and M catarrhalis was 15 µg/mL (36 mmol/L). Fluvastatin and Pravastatin showed no antibacterial effect in concentrations up to 100 µg/mL (230 µmol/L). Statins did not affect growth or viability of H influenzae. Single doses of statins given to healthy volunteers did not affect growth of pneumococci, whereas penicillin efficiently killed all bacteria.


Simvastatin at high concentrations 15 µg/mL (36 µmol/L) rapidly kills S pneumoniae and M catarrhalis. However, these concentrations by far exceed the concentrations detected in human blood during simvastatin therapy (1–15 nmol/L) and single doses of statins given to healthy volunteers did not improve antibacterial effects of whole blood. Thus, a direct bactericidal effect of statins in vivo is probably not the mechanism behind the observed beneficial effect of statins against various infections.