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Are pleiotropic effects of statins real?

Authors Alberto Corsini, Nicola Ferri, Michele Cortellaro

Published 15 November 2007 Volume 2007:3(5) Pages 611—613


Alberto Corsini, Nicola Ferri, Michele Cortellaro

Department of Pharmacological Sciences and Department of Clinical Sciences, “Luigi Sacco”, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Abstract: The clinical benefits of statins are strongly related to their low density lipoproteincholesterol (LDL-C) lowering properties. However, because mevalonic acid (MVA), the product of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-3-glutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase reaction, is the precursor not only of cholesterol but also of nonsteroidal isoprenoid compounds, the inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase may result in pleiotropic effects, independent of their hypocholesterolemic properties. The discrimination between the pleiotropic from LDL-C lowering effects may potentially be more evident during the early phase of treatment since plasma MVA levels drop up to 70% within 1–2 hours while a reduction of LDL-C, detectable after 24 hours, became significant after 6–7 days. Therefore, the deprivation of circulating MVA-derived isoprenoids in the early phase of treatment could be the main mechanism responsible for the atheroprotective effect of statins. This early window of protection in the absence of LDL-C lowering suggests that the anti-inflammatory and the pleiotropic properties of statins may have clinical importance. Therefore, acute coronary syndromes could represent a clinical condition for addressing the early benefits of statins therapy, ie, within 24 h of the event, independent of LDL-C lowering.

Keywords: anti-inflammatory effects of statins, mevalonate pathway, LDL lowering, acute coronary syndrome, prenylated proteins

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