Introduction: Asthma manifests as chronic airflow obstruction with persistent inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness. The immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of the HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) inhibitors (a.k.a. statins), suggest a therapeutic role in chronic inflammatory lung diseases. However, despite positive laboratory investigations and promising epidemiological data, clinical trials using statins for the treatment of asthma have yielded conflicting results. Inadequate statin levels in the airway compartment could explain these findings. Areas covered: HMGCR is in the mevalonate (MA) pathway and MA signaling is fundamental to lung biology and asthma. This article will discuss clinical trials of oral statins in asthma, review lab investigations relevant to the systemic versus inhaled administration of statins, address the advantages and disadvantages of inhaled statins, and answer the question: is there a role for inhaled statins in the treatment of asthma? Expert commentary: If ongoing investigations show that oral administration of statins has no clear clinical benefits, then repurposing statins for delivery via inhalation is a logical next step. Inhalation of statins bypasses first-pass metabolism by the liver, and therefore, allows for delivery of significantly lower doses to the airways at greater potency. Statins could become the next major class of novel inhalers for the treatment of asthma.
- drug repositioning
- drug repurposing
- inflammatory lung disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health