Simvastatin reduces wasting and improves cardiac function as well as outcome in experimental cancer cachexia

Sandra Palus, Stephan Von Haehling, Valerie C. Flach, Anika Tschirner, Wolfram Doehner, Stefan D. Anker, Jochen Springer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Chronic inflammation is common in cancer cachexia (CC) and directly involved in the atrophy seen in this condition. Recently, several groups have described a form of cardiomyopathy in CC animal models. Hence, we investigated the effect of simvastatin with its known anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects in a rat model of CC. Methods Juvenile Wister Han rats (weight approx. 200 g) were inoculated with Yoshida AH-130 hepatoma cells and treated once daily with 0.1, 1, 10 or 20 mg/kg/d simvastatin or placebo for 14 days. Body weight and body composition (NMR) were assessed at baseline and at the end of the study. Cardiac function was analysed by echocardiography at baseline and day 11. Results Tumour-bearing, placebo-treated rats lost 47.9 ± 3.8 g of their initial body weight. Treatment with 0.1, 1, 10 or 20 mg/kg/d simvastatin significantly reduced wasting by 39.6%, 47.6%, 28.5% and 35.4%, respectively (all p <0.05 vs. placebo). This was mainly due to reduced atrophy of lean mass, i.e. muscle mass. Cardiac function was significantly improved, e.g. cardiac output (untreated sham: 78.9 mL/min) was severely impaired in tumour-bearing rats (42.4 mL/min) and improved by 1, 10 or 20 mg/kg/d simvastatin (62.2, 59.0 and 57.0 mL/min, respectively, all p <0.05 vs. placebo). Most importantly, 10 or 20 mg/kg/d simvastatin reduced mortality (HR:0.16, 95%CI:0.04-0.76, p = 0.021 and HR:0.16, 95%CI:0.03-0.72, p = 0.017 vs placebo, respectively). Conclusion Simvastatin attenuated loss of body weight as well as muscle mass and improved cardiac function leading to improved survival in this CC model. Simvastatin may be beneficial in a clinical setting to treat CC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3412-3418
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 9 2013


  • Body composition
  • Cancer cachexia
  • Cardiac function
  • Hepatoma
  • Simvastatin
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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