Pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and the role of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors

Alberto Corsini, Marco Raiteri, Maurizio R. Soma, Franco Bernini, Remo Fumagalli, Rodolfo Paoletti

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Atherosclerosis is a complex multifactorial process resulting from an excessive inflammatory/fibroproliferative response to various forms of injurious stimuli to the arterial wall. The potential interactions of cells, cytokines, and growth-regulatory molecules among the different cells in the atherosclerotic lesion present numerous opportunities for modulating lesion formation and progression. Smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration and proliferation, together with lipid deposition, are now recognized as the major phenomena occurring within the arterial wall, and thus these phenomena serve as targets for pharmacologic intervention in the process of atherogenesis. Migration and proliferation of SMC are key events in atherosclerosis-and in restenosis after angioplasty. An understanding of the factors that induce such events is important for the prevention and treatment of these diseases. Mevalonate and other intermediates of cholesterol synthesis (isoprenoids) are essential for cell proliferation; hence drugs affecting this metabolic pathway are potential antiatherosclerotic agents. Recently, this group provided in vitro and in vivo evidence of decreases in SMC proliferation by fluvastatin and simvastatin, but not pravastatin, independent of their cholesterol-lowering properties. The in vitro inhibition of cell migration and proliferation induced by simvastatin and fluvastatin (70-90% decrease) was completely prevented by the addition of mevalonate, and partially prevented (70-80%) by famesol or geranylgeraniol. This confirms the specific role of isoprenoid metabolites-most probably geranylgerylated protein(s)-in regulating cell migration and proliferation. The inhibitory effect of fluvastatin and simvastatin on cholesterol esterification induced by acetyl low density lipoprotein in macrophages was also prevented by the addition of geranylgeraniol. Taken together, these data support the importance of pharmacologic modulation of the mevalonate pathway in controlling major events involved in atherogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 13 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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