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Statins as Pleiotropic Modifiers of Vascular Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world and in the future is expected to be the number one killer worldwide. The main cause underlying CVD is atherosclerosis. A key event in atherosclerosis initiation and progression is oxidative stress through the production of reactive oxygen species as well as endothelial dysfunction. Several pro- inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and proteins are involved in this process, complemented by activation of adhesion molecules that promote leukocyte rolling, tethering and infiltration into the sub-endothelial space. Statins represent the agent of choice since numerous clinical trials have verified that their pharmacological action extends beyond lipid lowering. Statins demonstrate direct anti-oxidant effects by scavenging free radicals and stimulating anti-oxidant enzymes while acting as regulators for cytokine, protein and adhesion molecule expression, all of which are involved in the atherosclerotic process. Statin use is considered one of the most efficient currently used interventions in managing CVD with the likely hood of remaining so in the near future.

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