Effects of simvastatin and atorvastatin on inflammation markers in plasma

J Intern Med. 2002 Apr;251(4):338-47. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2796.2002.00966.x.


Objectives: To study the effect of statins on plasma markers for inflammation.

Design: Patients with hypercholesterolemia were randomized in one of the following treatments: Simvastatin (S) + placebo: S 40 mg for 6 weeks - S 80 mg for 6 weeks - S 80 mg for 24 weeks and Atorvastatin (A) + placebo: A 20 mg for 6 weeks - A 40 mg for 6 weeks - A 80 mg for 24 weeks.

Subjects: Forty-seven patients with hypercholesterolemia were recruited in four different outpatient clinics.

Main outcome measures: Samples were obtained at randomization after 6, 12 and 36 weeks. Plasma or serum was analysed for lipids and for inflammation markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), soluble phospholipase A2 (SPLA2), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).

Results: The reduction in LDL was similar for the two statins, except at the highest dose of atorvastatin (41 vs. 47%). The increase in HDL tended to be more pronounced in the simvastatin group, significantly so on the highest dose of atorvastatin (P < 0.05). CRP and SAA was significantly reduced by atorvastatin, whilst no reduction was seen for simvastatin. There was a significant difference in treatment effects between the two statins. Both statins caused a reduction in SPLA2. For IL-6 and ICAM-1 only small and inconsistent reductions were observed for both statins.

Conclusion: Atorvastatin reduced the liver-derived acute-phase reactants, CRP and SAA, whilst the effect of simvastatin was small or absent. Small and inconsistent effects were seen for both statins on plasma levels of IL-6 and ICAM-1.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atorvastatin
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heptanoic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use*
  • Simvastatin / therapeutic use*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Interleukin-6
  • Pyrroles
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Atorvastatin
  • Simvastatin