Purpose of review: Statins significantly reduce cholesterol synthesis and reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In addition, they appear to have beneficial effects independent of their ability to lower cholesterol. Recent publications suggesting a potential role for statin therapy in chronic renal insufficiency, hypertension and following organ transplantation are reviewed.
Recent findings: Pharmacokinetic studies have shown statins to be well-tolerated and effective in patients on long-term haemodialysis, providing equivalent control of lipid levels to that seen in matched controls. Preliminary clinical trials suggest that statins may have beneficial disease-modifying effects in chronic inflammatory disease. Furthermore, immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory actions may confer benefit following cardiac transplantation, but this remains to be demonstrated definitively in renal transplant patients. Data to date suggest that, in addition to reduction of cardiovascular risk, statins may help slow the progress of chronic renal insufficiency, particularly in patients with proteinuria. Addition of statin therapy may also contribute to the control of systemic and pulmonary hypertension.
Summary: Encouraging data in support of a wider spectrum of use for statins are emerging. In addition to reduction of cardiovascular risk through lipid lowering, they may represent an important adjunctive therapy in patients with chronic kidney diseases and post-transplantation. However, further large, well-designed clinical trials are required before their widespread use can be recommended in this setting.