Statins Are Associated With Increased Insulin Resistance and Secretion

Fahim Abbasi, Cindy Lamendola, Chelsea S. Harris, Vander Harris, Ming Shian Tsai, Pragya Tripathi, Fakhar Abbas, Gerald M. Reaven, Peter D. Reaven, Michael P. Snyder, Sun H. Kim, Joshua W. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Statin treatment reduces the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease but is associated with a modest increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in those with insulin resistance or prediabetes. Our objective was to determine the physiological mechanism for the increased type 2 diabetes risk. APPROACH AND RESULTS: We conducted an open-label clinical trial of atorvastatin 40 mg daily in adults without known atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes at baseline. The co-primary outcomes were changes at 10 weeks versus baseline in insulin resistance as assessed by steady-state plasma glucose during the insulin suppression test and insulin secretion as assessed by insulin secretion rate area under the curve (ISRAUC) during the graded-glucose infusion test. Secondary outcomes included glucose and insulin, both fasting and during oral glucose tolerance test. Of 75 participants who enrolled, 71 completed the study (median age 61 years, 37% women, 65% non-Hispanic White, median body mass index, 27.8 kg/m2). Atorvastatin reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein)-cholesterol (median decrease 53%, P<0.001) but did not change body weight. Compared with baseline, atorvastatin increased insulin resistance (steady-state plasma glucose) by a median of 8% (P=0.01) and insulin secretion (ISRAUC) by a median of 9% (P<0.001). There were small increases in oral glucose tolerance test glucoseAUC (median increase, 0.05%; P=0.03) and fasting insulin (median increase, 7%; P=0.01). CONCLUSIONS: In individuals without type 2 diabetes, high-intensity atorvastatin for 10 weeks increases insulin resistance and insulin secretion. Over time, the risk of new-onset diabetes with statin use may increase in individuals who become more insulin resistant but are unable to maintain compensatory increases in insulin secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2786-2797
Number of pages12
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • atorvastatin
  • cardiovascular disease
  • glucose
  • insulin resistance
  • insulin secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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