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Circulation. 2003 Oct 7;108(14):1673-5. Epub 2003 Sep 22.

Enhanced interleukin-1beta in hypercholesterolemia: effects of simvastatin and low-dose aspirin.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Medicine & Pathology, University of Rome, La Sapienza, Italy.



This study was aimed at verifying whether activation of platelets might represent a source of interleukin (IL)-1beta levels in hypercholesterolemia. To this purpose, we compared the effects of a short-term treatment with simvastatin or low-dose aspirin on circulating levels of this cytokine.


Fifty patients with hypercholesterolemia were randomly allocated to receive an 8-week therapeutic course of simvastatin 20 mg daily (n=25) or aspirin 100 mg daily (n=25). Baseline soluble (s) P-selectin directly correlated with IL-1beta (P<0.0001) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (P<0.05) but not with von Willebrand factor, total cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, sP-selectin (P<0.02) and IL-1beta (P<0.0001) levels were independently related to CRP by multiple regression analysis. Both drugs were associated with comparable, significant reductions in IL-1beta and sP-selectin. Simvastatin, but not aspirin treatment, significantly lowered CRP levels (P<0.05). The change in IL-1beta levels correlated with the change in sP-selectin in patients randomized to either simvastatin (Rho, 0.42; P<0.05) or aspirin (Rho, 0.42; P<0.05). In contrast, the simvastatin-induced change in IL-1beta did not correlate with the change in CRP levels.


This study suggests that platelets might contribute to IL-1beta production in hypercholesterolemia, thus providing an additional link between inflammation and the prothrombotic state in this setting.

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