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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Associations between statins and COPD: a systematic review

Claudia C Dobler12*, Keith K Wong1 and Guy B Marks123

Author affiliations

1 Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

3 South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2009, 9:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-9-32

Published: 12 July 2009



Statins have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties which could possibly influence inflammatory airways disease. We assessed evidence for disease modifying effects of statin treatment in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


A systematic review was conducted of studies which reported effects of statin treatment in COPD. Data sources searched included MEDLINE, EMBASE and reference lists.


Eight papers reporting nine original studies met the selection criteria. One was a randomized controlled trial (RCT), one a retrospective nested case-control study, five were retrospective cohort studies of which one was linked with a case-control study, and one was a retrospective population-based analysis. Outcomes associated with treatment with statins included decreased all-cause mortality in three out of four studies (OR/HR 0.48–0.67 in three studies, OR 0.99 in one study), decreased COPD-related mortality (OR 0.19–0.29), reduction in incidence of respiratory-related urgent care (OR 0.74), fewer COPD exacerbations (OR 0.43), fewer intubations for COPD exacerbations (OR 0.1) and attenuated decline in pulmonary function. The RCT reported improvement in exercise capacity and dyspnea after exercise associated with decreased levels of C-reactive protein and Interleukin-6 in statin users, but no improvement of lung function.


There is evidence from observational studies and one RCT that statins may reduce morbidity and/or mortality in COPD patients. Further interventional studies are required to confirm these findings.