Statin use and the risk of clostridium difficile infection: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Raseen Tariq, Dhruvika Mukhija, Arjun Gupta, Siddharth Singh, Darrell S. Pardi, Sahil Khanna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Statins have pleiotropic effects beyond cholesterol lowering by immune modulation. The association of statins with primary Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is unclear as studies have reported conflicting findings. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the association between statin use and CDI. Patients and methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science from January 1978 to December 2016 for studies assessing the association between statin use and CDI. The Newcastle–Ottawa Scale was used to assess the methodologic quality of included studies. Weighted summary estimates were calculated using generalized inverse variance with random-effects model. Results: Eight studies (6 case–control and 2 cohort) were included in the meta-analysis, which comprised 156,722 patients exposed to statins and 356,185 controls, with 34,849 total cases of CDI available in 7 studies. The rate of CDI in patients with statin use was 4.3%, compared with 7.8% in patients without statin use. An overall meta-analysis of 8 studies using the random-effects model demonstrated that statins may be associated with a decreased risk of CDI (maximally adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66–0.97; P=0.02). There was significant heterogeneity among the studies, with an I2 of 79%. No publication bias was seen. Meta-analysis of studies that adjusted for confounders revealed no protective effect of statins (adjusted OR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.70–1.01; P=0.06, I2=75%). However, a meta-analysis of only full-text studies using the random-effects model demonstrated a decreased risk of CDI with the use of statins (OR 0.77; 95% CI, 0.61–0.99; P=0.04, I2=85%). Conclusion: Meta-analyses of existing studies suggest that patients prescribed a statin may be at decreased risk for CDI. The results must be interpreted with caution given the significant heterogeneity and lack of benefit on analysis of studies that adjusted for confounders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-416
Number of pages12
JournalInfection and Drug Resistance
StatePublished - Mar 13 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The abstract of this paper was presented as a poster at the American College of Gastroenterology Conference in Orlando, FL, on October 15th, 2017. The abstract was published in the conference abstract supplement of the American Journal of Gastroenterology (Am J Gastroenterol 112:S56; doi:10.1038/ajg.2017.296).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Tariq et al.


  • Clostridium difficile infection
  • Incidence
  • Meta-analysis
  • Statins


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