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Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2004 Oct;(143):41-8.

Statins: potent vascular anti-inflammatory agents.

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Vascular Medicine Research, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 65 Landsdowne Street, Room 275, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial condition that can result in cardiovascular disease. Statin therapy is thought to mediate cardioprotective effects that influence endothelial function, inflammatory responses, plaque stability and thrombus formation, processes involved in atherosclerosis. Although reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) potentially plays a role in all of these effects, several lines of evidence also implicate nonlipidmediated 'pleiotropic' effects. For example, statin therapy confers a lower risk for coronary heart disease than placebo in patients with comparable serum cholesterol levels, and confers a greater magnitude of clinical benefit than expected based on LDL-C levels alone. Moreover, while nonstatin lipid-lowering therapy does not necessarily reduce stroke risk, statins have shown a significant reduction in stroke. Statins exert their pleiotropic effects, in part, by improving endothelial function via up-regulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase enzyme activity. Markers of inflammation such as high sensitivity C-reactive protein have been also shown to add further prognostic information about patients at risk of cardiovascular disease who may benefit from statin therapy. Further studies are still needed to determine whether statins have direct effects on inflammatory pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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