BACKGROUND: Statins are 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors blocking cholesterol biosynthesis in hepatic cells, thereby causing an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors resulting in enhanced uptake and clearance of atherogenic LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) from the blood. Accordingly, statins decrease the risk of developing atherosclerosis and its acute complications, such as acute myocardial infarction and ischaemic stroke. Besides the LDL-C-lowering impact, statins also have other so-called pleiotropic effects. Among them, the ability to modulate differentiation and function of bone cells and exert direct effects on osteosynthesis factors. Specifically, earlier studies have shown that statins cause in vitro and in vivo osteogenic differentiation.
DESIGN: The most relevant papers on the bone-related 'pleiotropic' effects of statins were selected following literature search in databases and were reveiwed.
RESULTS: Statins increase the expression of many mediators involved in bone metabolism including bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), glucocorticoids, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), type I collagen and collagenase-1. As a result, they enhance bone formation and improve bone mineral density by modulating osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation.
CONCLUSION: This review summarizes the literature exploring bone-related 'pleiotropic' effects of statins and suggests an anabolic role in the bone tissue for this drug class. Accordingly, current knowledge encourages further clinical trials to assess the therapeutic potential of statins in the treatment of bone disorders, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.