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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2017 May 1;312(5):G488-G497. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00149.2016. Epub 2017 Feb 16.

The influence of rosuvastatin on the gastrointestinal microbiota and host gene expression profiles.

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APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
School of Microbiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
Teagasc Food Research Centre, Biosciences Department, Moorepark, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland.
School of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; and.
APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland;
School of Pharmacy, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


Statins are the most widely prescribed medications worldwide for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. They inhibit the activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMG-R), an enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis in higher organisms and in isoprenoid biosynthesis in some bacteria. We hypothesized that statins may influence the microbial community in the gut through either direct inhibition or indirect mechanisms involving alterations to host responses. We therefore examined the impact of rosuvastatin (RSV) on the community structure of the murine gastrointestinal microbiota. RSV was orally administered to mice and the effects on the gut microbiota, host bile acid profiles, and markers of inflammation were analyzed. RSV significantly influenced the microbial community in both the cecum and feces, causing a significant decrease in ╬▒-diversity in the cecum and resulting in a reduction of several physiologically relevant bacterial groups. RSV treatment of mice significantly affected bile acid metabolism and impacted expression of inflammatory markers known to influence microbial community structure (including RegIII╬│ and Camp) in the gut. This study suggests that a commonly used statin (RSV) leads to an altered gut microbial composition in normal mice with attendant impacts on local gene expression profiles, a finding that should prompt further studies to investigate the implications of statins for gut microbiota stability and health in humans.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This work demonstrates that rosuvastatin administration in mice affects the gastrointestinal microbiota, influences bile acid metabolism, and alters transcription of genes encoding factors involved in gut homeostasis and immunity in the gastrointestinal tract.


bile acid; inflammation; isoprenoid; microbiota; statin

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