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Br J Haematol. 2011 Jun;153(5):655-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08480.x. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

A pilot study of the short-term use of simvastatin in sickle cell disease: effects on markers of vascular dysfunction.

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Department of Haematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, 747 52nd Street, Oakland, CA 94609, USA.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is characterized by progressive vascular injury and its pathophysiology is strikingly similar to that of atherosclerosis. Statins decrease inflammation and improve endothelial function in cardiovascular disease, but their effect in SCD is not known. In this pilot study, we examined the safety and effect of short-term simvastatin on biomarkers of vascular dysfunction in SCD. We treated 26 SCD patients with simvastatin, 20 or 40 mg/d, for 21 d. Plasma nitric oxide metabolites (NOx), C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), tissue factor (TF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were analyzed and responses to simvastatin were compared between the two treatment groups. Simvastatin increased NOx levels by 23% in the low-dose (P =0·01) and 106% in the moderate-dose (P =0·01) groups, and by 52% overall (P=0·0008). CRP decreased similarly in both dose groups and by 68% overall (P =0·02). Levels of IL-6 decreased by 50% (P=0·04) and 71% (P<0·05) in the low- and moderate-dose groups, respectively. Simvastatin had no effect on VEGF, VCAM1 or TF. Simvastatin was well-tolerated and safe. Our preliminary findings showing a dose-related effect of simvastatin on levels of NOx, CRP and IL-6 suggest a potential therapeutic role for simvastatin in SCD.


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