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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Nov;21(11):1712-9.

Pleiotropic effects of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme a reductase inhibitors.

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Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors or statins are potent inhibitors of cholesterol biosynthesis. Several large clinical trials have demonstrated the beneficial effects of statins in the primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. However, the overall clinical benefits observed with statin therapy appear to be greater than what might be expected from changes in lipid profile alone, suggesting that the beneficial effects of statins may extend beyond their effects on serum cholesterol levels. Indeed, recent experimental and clinical evidence indicates that some of the cholesterol-independent or "pleiotropic" effects of statins involve improving or restoring endothelial function, enhancing the stability of atherosclerotic plaques, and decreasing oxidative stress and vascular inflammation. Many of these pleiotropic effects of statins are mediated by their ability to block the synthesis of important isoprenoid intermediates, which serve as lipid attachments for a variety of intracellular signaling molecules. In particular, the inhibition of small GTP-binding proteins, Rho, Ras, and Rac, whose proper membrane localization and function are dependent on isoprenylation, may play an important role in mediating the direct cellular effects of statins on the vascular wall.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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