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Circ J. 2010 May;74(5):818-26. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Pleiotropic effects of statins. - Basic research and clinical perspectives -.

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Vascular Medicine Research Unit, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02139, USA.


Statins are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, which are widely used to lower serum cholesterol levels in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Recent experimental and clinical evidence suggests that the beneficial effects of statins may extend beyond their cholesterol-lowering effects, to include so-called pleiotropic effects. These cholesterol-independent effects include improving endothelial function, attenuating vascular and myocardial remodeling, inhibiting vascular inflammation and oxidation, and stabilizing atherosclerotic plaques. The mechanism underlying some of these pleiotropic effects is the inhibition of isoprenoid synthesis by statins, which leads to the inhibition of intracellular signaling molecules Rho, Rac and Cdc42. In particular, inhibition of Rho and one of its downstream targets, Rho kinase, may be a predominant mechanism contributing to the pleiotropic effects of statins. The aim of the present review is to provide an update on the non-cholesterol-dependent statin effects in the cardiovascular system and highlight some of the recent findings from bench to bedside to support the concept of statin pleiotropy.

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