Statins in sepsis

Paul P. Dobesh, Stephanie M. Swahn, Evan J. Peterson, Keith M. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Sepsis is a common intensive care unit event occurring in approximately 750 000 patients annually, with a case mortality rate approaching 50%. Sepsis is characterized by a chaotic and excessive release of inflammatory cytokines and procoagulants including tumor necrosis factor, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, platelet-activating factor, and tissue factor. Efforts to inhibit individual cytokines in order to modify poor outcomes have been generally disappointing, suggesting the need to target multiple inflammatory mediators to obtain clinical benefit. Statins lower lipids by inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, which in turn inhibits the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis. In addition to lowering total cholesterol, statins have pleiotropic effects on inflammation and immunity. Instead of impacting a single entity in the sepsis syndrome, statins may have positive effects on multiple inflammatory, immunomodulating, and coagulation targets involved in the development of infection and sepsis. There have been a number of institutional- and population-based studies that have evaluated the impact of statins in patients with infection and sepsis. Most of these studies, but not all, have demonstrated a number of positive outcomes in patients with statins, including reduction in mortality. Based on these data, statins are a promising therapy in the management of patients with sepsis and warrant larger and more rigorous clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-49
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Critical care
  • Inflammation
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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