The same process that helps cholesterol-lowering statins fight heart disease also can age stem cells prematurely, potentially unmasking a hidden culprit behind adverse side effects, such as memory loss, muscle problems, and increased risk for diabetes, indicates a study at Tulane University, New Orleans, La.
"The study shows the link between the positive effects of statins on cardiovascular events, but it also may explain the incidence of adverse side effects," says senior author Eckhard Alt, director of Cardiovascular Research for the Heart and Vascular Institute.
The study examines the impact of clinical doses of two popular statins on blood and tissue samples from adult donors in different age groups. Researchers extracted stem cells within the samples to see how the drugs affected their development into macrophages, immune cells that play a critical role in the formation and breakdown of artery-clogging plaque that is a hallmark of heart disease.
Researchers found that statins prevented stem...