Scientists find genetic variants influence patients' response to statins

Nov. 12, 2014

A large analysis of more than 40,000 individuals on statin treatment has identified two new genetic variants which influence how “bad” cholesterol levels respond to statin therapy. The study, led by Queen Mary University of London and published in Nature Communications, is the largest to date and involved analyzing data from six randomized clinical trials and 10 observational studies to look for genetic variants influencing patients' response to statins.

Together with multiple universities around the world, the researchers validated their findings in a further 22,318 individuals. They founds two new common genetic variants which significantly affected the degree to which bad cholesterol was lowered during statin treatment, and confirmed two previously described genetic associations.

Lead author Mark Caulfield, PhD, comments, “This study marks an important step toward understanding how genetic variations influence statin response. However, further research is needed to find out how we can apply this in care of patients receiving statins. We must build up a bigger picture of the genetic variation that predicts statin response. Only then will we be in a position to tell whether testing for these genetic variants is of benefit to patients who take statin therapy.”

The effects of all four associated genetic variants collectively account for about 5% of the variation in inter-individual response to statins. One of the identified genetic variants was shown to enhance statin response. In contrast, the second variant, thought to have a role in the uptake of statins by the liver, decreased the effects of the drug. Together, these findings may enhance researchers’ understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying bad cholesterol response to statin therapy. Read the study.

Read more