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Statin Fails to Prevent Type 1 Diabetes in Mice

Researchers hoped to reproduce effects previously seen in other autoimmune diseases

FRIDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Although atorvastatin inhibits pathogenic beta-cell-specific CD8 T-cells, it does not prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in mice, according to a study published in the April issue of Diabetes.

Mark Peakman, M.D., of King's College London School of Medicine in the U.K., and colleagues studied the effects of atorvastatin on non-obese diabetic mice, a spontaneous, chronic model of autoimmune diabetes. The mice received various doses of atorvastatin from six or 12 weeks of age.

The researchers found that there was no effect on the rate or prevalence of diabetes development, islet infiltration or islet major histocompatibility complex class II expression. However, they also found that short-term (12-day) treatment significantly reduced the number of proinflammatory (gamma-interferon-producing) CD8 cells recognizing a dominant pathogenic epitope.

"This effect was absent in mice treated for longer periods, suggesting that atorvastatin loses efficiency in inhibiting autoantigen-specific T-cells over time," the authors conclude. "This observation may explain the discrepancy between the reported success of statins in acutely induced models and the lack of it in a chronic, spontaneous model of autoimmune disease and has implications for the adoption of such therapy in humans."

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