To understand the potential benefit of glyconutrient supplementation in statin associated damage one must know two very basic and fundamental players in our biochemical "Dance of Life". Once you store these two elements in your memory the rest of the subject naturally unfolds.
In each of our billions of body cells are tiny mini-factories of immense complexity known as endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and its companion piece the Golgi apparatus (GA). It is in the ER that bits of protein are attached one to the other, like popcorn on a string, to become peptide strands ultimately governing everything we do. This recipe for action is passed on to the GA where it is packaged into a vesicle and carried away for storage until called upon. Orchestrating this entire process is a substance known as dolichol; the second player I want you to know about, for this can be seriously affected by statin drugs.
ER, GA and dolichols will be familiar to all medical students for this is an important part of biochemistry but by the time young doctors have established their practice, many details will become lost in memory as more clinically pressing matters take their place. What I am about to share with you about glyconutrients is so new that only the newest graduates will have been introduced to the subject. Sugars are not just for energy any more. What I was taught has changed as knowledge has grown.
Now it is believed by many that eight sugars are intimately involved in what goes on in the ER. In some cases sugars attached to the cell surface are instrumental in cell signaling. In other cases and under the supervision of dolichols, certain sugars are attached here and there on the growing peptide strand, each one determining a point of protein folding.
They say in biochemistry that function is structure and the function we see is determined by just how the protein chain is folded. True, one can get considerable diversity of function just by type of protein and the position is has on the growing peptide strand but the addition of sugars, affording complex folding of the peptide strand, gives a tremendous increase in versatility of shape and therefore, function.
Yes, we are subtle creatures, going from love to hate in the blink of an eye and this almost unlimited range of emotions is based on an underlying almost unlimited range of structure allowed by the attachment of certain sugars.
There is no doubt in my mind about the effect of statins on dolichols. The subject is fully referenced but, as yet, dolichols cannot be replaced. There is no harmless substrate we can consume to compensate for statin's impairment of dolichol synthesis. Where then, do we turn?
Possibly to glyconutrients with their eight specially formulated monosacharrides anticipating that by optimizing the key sugars available in our ERs, we can compensate for dolichol lack. Yes, this is a big jump, one that has yet to be proven, yet much information is available from anecdotal sources suggesting this may work.
Work in this area is complicated by the fact that there is so much to be learned about this process of glycosylation. We know that dolichols are involved but do not know exactly how. We do not yet know about life's normal wear and tear on the availability of these key sugars and years of research will be required to answer these questions. Of immediate concern to me are the effect of statins on this mechanism and the development of therapeutic measures when statin damage has occurred.
Motivation for this comes from my growing repository of statin drug side effect reports. Hundreds of statin users complaining of unusual aggressiveness, hostility, irritability, mood swings and depression with mechanism seemingly pointing towards altered neuropeptide formation. Others with slowly progressive neuromuscular degeneration, even though the associated statin was long ago discontinued and obscure as to mechanism but consistent with alteration in cell signaling.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor