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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Aug;21(8):1320-6.

Antioxidant supplements block the response of HDL to simvastatin-niacin therapy in patients with coronary artery disease and low HDL.

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  • 1Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98103, USA.


One strategy for treating coronary artery disease (CAD) patients with low HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) is to maximally increase the HDL-C to LDL-C ratio by combining lifestyle changes with niacin (N) plus a statin. Because HDL can prevent LDL oxidation, the low-HDL state also may benefit clinically from supplemental antioxidants. Lipoprotein changes over 12 months were studied in 153 CAD subjects with low HDL-C randomized to take simvastatin and niacin (S-N), antioxidants (vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, and selenium), S-N plus antioxidants (S-N+A), or placebo. Mean baseline plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL-C, and HDL-C levels of the 153 subjects were 196, 207, 127, and 32 mg/dL, respectively. Without S-N, lipid changes were minor. The S-N and S-N+A groups had comparably significant reductions (P</=0.001) in plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL-C. However, increases in HDL-C, especially HDL(2)-C, were consistently higher in the S-N group than in the S-N+A group (25% vs 18% and 42% vs 0%, respectively). With S-N, but not with S-N+A, there was a selective increase in apolipoprotein (apo) A-I (64%) in HDL particles containing apo A-I but not A-II [Lp(A-I)] and their particle size. Thus, in CAD patients with low HDL-C, S-N substantially increased HDL(2)-C, Lp(A-I), and HDL particle size. These favorable responses were blunted by the antioxidants used owing to a striking selective effect on Lp(A-I). This unexpected adverse interaction between antioxidants and lipid therapy may have important implications for the management of CAD.

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