Aims: Beneficial effects of statins in preventing cardiovascular events may depend, at least in part, on their anti-inflammatory action. The aim of the study was to assess the influence of simvastatin and aspirin on serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in hypercholesterolemic subjects.
Methods and results: In 33 asymptomatic men with total cholesterol (TC) >6.5 mmol l(-1) and in 25 men with coronary heart disease and borderline-high cholesterol levels (between 5.2 and 6.5 mmol l(-1)) chronically treated with low-dose aspirin (75 mg/d), serum levels of CRP, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-8 were determined before and after a 3-month simvastatin therapy (20-40 mg daily). In the former group, these markers of inflammation were also measured before and after a 2-week treatment with aspirin (300 mg/d), implemented prior to and in combination with simvastatin. A distinct reduction of CRP and TNF-alpha was found in both groups; IL-6 levels were decreased only in subjects with marked hypercholesterolemia. Aspirin had no effect on the anti-inflammatory action of simvastatin.
Conclusions: In men with hypercholesterolemia simvastatin treatment lowers serum levels of CRP and proinflammatory cytokines. Low-dose aspirin does not add to the anti-inflammatory action of simvastatin.