Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Statins impair glucose uptake in human cells
  1. Dominika Nowis1,2,
  2. Agata Malenda1,
  3. Karolina Furs1,
  4. Bozenna Oleszczak3,
  5. Radoslaw Sadowski1,
  6. Justyna Chlebowska1,
  7. Malgorzata Firczuk1,
  8. Janusz M Bujnicki4,5,
  9. Adam D Staruch1,
  10. Radoslaw Zagozdzon1,
  11. Eliza Glodkowska-Mrowka1,
  12. Leszek Szablewski3,
  13. Jakub Golab1,6
  1. 1Department of Immunology, Center of Biostructure Research, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  2. 2Genomic Medicine, Department of General, Transplant and Liver Surgery, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  3. 3Chair of General Biology and Parasitology, Center of Biostructure Research, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  4. 4Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Protein Engineering, International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  5. 5Bioinformatics Laboratory, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland
  6. 6Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dominika Nowis; dominika.nowis{at}


Objective Considering the increasing number of clinical observations indicating hyperglycemic effects of statins, this study was designed to measure the influence of statins on the uptake of glucose analogs by human cells derived from liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle.

Design Flow cytometry and scintillation counting were used to measure the uptake of fluorescently labeled or tritiated glucose analogs by differentiated visceral preadipocytes, skeletal muscle cells, skeletal muscle myoblasts, and contact-inhibited human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. A bioinformatics approach was used to predict the structure of human glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and to identify the presence of putative cholesterol-binding (cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid consensus (CRAC)) motifs within this transporter. Mutagenesis of CRAC motifs in SLC2A1 gene and limited proteolysis of membrane GLUT1 were used to determine the molecular effects of statins.

Results Statins significantly inhibit the uptake of glucose analogs in all cell types. Similar effects are induced by methyl-β-cyclodextrin, which removes membrane cholesterol. Statin effects can be rescued by addition of mevalonic acid, or supplementation with exogenous cholesterol. Limited proteolysis of GLUT1 and mutagenesis of CRAC motifs revealed that statins induce conformational changes in GLUTs.

Conclusions Statins impair glucose uptake by cells involved in regulation of glucose homeostasis by inducing cholesterol-dependent conformational changes in GLUTs. This molecular mechanism might explain hyperglycemic effects of statins observed in clinical trials.

  • Glucose Uptake
  • GLUT1
  • Pharmacological Therapy

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.