Background: Chronic inflammation and immune system activation underlie a variety of seemingly unrelated cardiac conditions including not only atherosclerosis and the subsequent coronary artery disease but also peripheral artery disease, hypertension with target organ damage and heart failure. The beneficial effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or statins are mainly attributed to their ability to inhibit hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis. Beyond their lipid lowering activity, ample evidence exists in support of their potent anti-inflammatory properties which initiate from the inhibition of GTPase isoprenylation, activating a cataract of secondary pathways and extend to the inhibition and blocking of immune cell activation and interaction.
Objective: To summarize the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of statins in clinical and experimental settings in cardiovascular disease.
Methods: A systematic search of PubMed and the Cochrane Database was conducted in order to identify the majority of trials, studies, current guidelines and novel articles related to the subject.
Results: In vitro, statins have immuno-modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects, and they can exert antiatherosclerotic effects independently of their hypolipidemic actions. In addition, positive results have emerged from mechanistic and experimental studies on the active role of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors in HF. By extrapolating those data in clinical setting, we further understand how HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors can beneficially affect not only systolic but also diastolic HF.
Conclusion: In this review article, we present the basic pathophysiologic data supporting the anti-inflammatory actions of statins in clinical and experimental settings and we link these mechanisms with confirmatory clinical data on the potent non lipid lowering effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.