Are pleiotropic effects of statins real?

Alberto Corsini, Nicola Ferri, Michele Cortellaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical benefits of statins are strongly related to their low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-613
Number of pages3
JournalVascular Health and Risk Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Anti-inflammatory effects of statins
  • LDL lowering
  • Mevalonate pathway
  • Prenylated proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Hematology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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