Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) recently demonstrated that statin-based medication can be used to treat asthma as an inhaler formulation. The finding was published in the journal Physiological Reports and the study is entitled “Intratracheal instillation of pravastatin for the treatment of murine allergic asthma: a lung-targeted approach to deliver statins.”
Statins are a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels) due to their ability to inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis. Statins have also been shown to have other clinical benefits, namely immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have been conducted on the impact of statins in the lungs and their possible use in the treatment of respiratory disorders. It has been previously reported that statins might be effective as a therapy for asthma, a common chronic inflammatory lung disease that is estimated to affect 27 million individuals in the United States. However, one problem encountered was the lack of a proper way to effectively deliver the drug to patients, as statins are only approved as an oral formulation, and it is unclear if the drug effectively reaches the lungs through the oral route. A direct delivery would be preferred as it would be most likely more effective and require a lower dose, which would reduce the risk of side effects.
UC Davis researchers have now tested whether inhaled statins, namely pravastatin directly delivered to the lungs were able to improve asthma symptoms in mouse models. The team found that statin treatment as a spray formulation was not toxic for animals and was mainly delivered into the lungs. Researchers developed a method to quantify statin levels in tissues, and these were found to be higher in mouse lungs after treatment, with minimal systemic absorption. Statin treatment was found to mitigate the airway’s over-sensitivity to allergens, reduce mucus overproduction and have a modest anti-inflammatory effect in mice. Overall, statin treatment was safe and well-tolerated by the animals.
The research team concluded that statins can be used to treat asthma and that they should be exploited as a new class of inhaler therapy for respiratory diseases. Further studies should be conducted to define the optimal statin dose and proper administration.