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J Hepatol. 2002 Apr;36(4):454-8.

Simvastatin in primary biliary cirrhosis: effects on serum lipids and distinct disease markers.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.



Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune disease of the liver with inflammation of small and middle-sized bile ducts. Serum lipids are frequently elevated, but the use of a lipid lowering drug therapy in PBC is still a matter of debate. Application of an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase in hypercholesterolemic PBC patients was therefore the subject of the present study.


Six female patients (aged 46.5 (32-61) years; median (range)) were treated with the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor simvastatin (5 or 20 mg/day). Levels of serum total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were determined prior to and after 2 months of treatment. Concentrations of serum markers of cholestasis, antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA), and immunoglobulins A, G and M were also assessed.


Simvastatin significantly (P<0.05) reduced serum levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, alkaline phosphatase, -glutamyltransferase, and immunoglobulin M (by 19, 26, 12, 37 and 14%, respectively).


The lipid lowering potency of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor simvastatin was confirmed in hypercholesterolemic patients with PBC. The drug might also prove useful as modulator of cholestasis and of immune response in this disease.

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