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Am J Cardiol. 2009 Aug 15;104(4):464-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.04.009. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Association of leukocyte subtype counts with coronary atherosclerotic regression following pravastatin treatment.

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Department of Cardiology, Nihon University, Surugadai Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to clarify the relation between differential leukocyte counts and inhibition of the development of coronary atherosclerosis in patients with coronary artery disease. A 6-month prospective study was conducted in 84 patients treated with pravastatin. Plaque volume, as assessed by volumetric analysis using intravascular ultrasound, decreased significantly by 12.6% (p <0.0001 vs baseline) after treatment; furthermore, a corresponding decrease of total leukocyte count (8.9%, p <0.01 vs baseline) was seen. Change in plaque volume was correlated with changes in monocyte (r = 0.35, p = 0.002) and lymphocyte (r = 0.25, p = 0.03) counts but not with changes in neutrophil, eosinophil, or basophil counts. In a multivariate regression analysis with changes in serum lipids, traditional risk factors, and medications as covariates, the decrease in monocyte count was identified as an independent predictor of coronary plaque regression (beta coefficient 0.313, 95% confidence interval 0.089 to 0.353, p = 0.0014). No correlation was found between change in monocyte count and changes in any other lipid levels. This study demonstrated that monocyte count was the only leukocyte type significantly and independently associated with coronary atherosclerotic regression, even after adjustment for changes in any lipid levels. In conclusion, the decrease in monocyte count as a nonlipid-lowering effect of statins may be used as a novel marker of coronary atherosclerotic regression.

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