Two cholesterol-lowering statin drugs reduce another marker of coronary-artery disease

DALLAS Two out of three statins, powerful drugs lauded for dramatically lowering low-density lipoproteins (LDL) the bad cholesterol - have been found to significantly decrease another risk factor for coronary-artery disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas reported.

In the first head-to-head comparison of the effect of three commonly prescribed statins on remnant lipoprotein (RLP) cholesterol levels, the researchers reported in todays issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology that atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor) significantly reduced RLP levels. Pravastatin (Pravachol), the third drug used in the study, had no significant effect on RLP levels.

Remnant lipoproteins, particles that circulate in the bloodstream much like LDL cholesterol, promote plaque formation in the arteries and subsequently are independent risk factors of coronary-artery disease.

Given that RLPs are atherogenic and promote plaque formation, it is not unreasonable to attribute part of the benefit of statins in reducing cardiovascular events to the reduction in RLP levels, said Dr. Ishwarlal Jialal, professor of pathology and internal medicine at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. Its clinically proven that statins lower LDL and reduce cardiovascular events. Results from this study provide evidence of another mechanism by which statins are beneficial.

Twenty-two patients with combined hyperlipidemia (LDL levels greater than 130 milligrams per deciliter and triglyceride levels between 160 and 600 mg/dL) randomly received 40 mg of pravastatin, 20 mg of simvastatin and 10 mg of atorvastatin for six weeks per medication. A three-week washout period followed the administration of each drug.

The RLP levels were tested using a novel assay that utilizes a gel containing specific antibodies, said Dr. Sridevi Devaraj, assistant professor of pathology. The antibodies bind to HDL and LDL, as well a

Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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