Objectives: In the present study, we investigated the effects of statins on serum levels of soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
Background: Atherosclerotic disease seems to involve inflammatory and immunologic mechanisms, and sCD40L has recently been identified as one of the key players in the atherosclerotic process. HMG-Co A reductase inhibitors, statins, have been recognized as immunomodulators and reduce cardiovascular events and mortality, but the effects of statins on sCD40L has not been clarified.
Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial, as part of the Atorvastatin versus Simvastatin on Atherosclerosis Progression (ASAP) trial, 110 patients with FH were given atorvastatin 80 mg/daily (n = 57) or simvastatin 40 mg/daily (n = 53) for two years.
Results: Our main findings were: 1) at baseline patients with FH had significantly higher (approximately 27-fold) serum levels of sCD40L than healthy controls; 2) statin therapy markedly decreased serum levels of sCD40L (approximately 40% reduction); 3) this decrease in sCD40L was found during both "aggressive" (i.e., atorvastatin) and "conventional" (i.e., simvastatin) statin therapy and was not correlated with the degree of reduction in cholesterol levels.
Conclusions: Our findings may suggest enhanced CD40L-CD40 interaction in FH and that this inflammatory response may be downregulated by statins.