Context: The Adult Treatment Panel III recommends 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, or statins, as first-line lipid-altering therapy for all adult patients with diabetes mellitus. This is based on the well-characterized efficacy and safety profiles of this class of agents as well as several clinical trials demonstrating that statin treatment reduces the risk of cardiovascular events.
Evidence acquisition: This review provides an overview of the effectiveness and mechanisms of action of statins in patients with diabetes mellitus using small efficacy trials and large clinical outcomes trials as well as studies of the effects of statins on apolipoprotein B (apoB) metabolism.
Evidence synthesis: The major findings presented are a review of mechanistic studies of selected subjects with diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia and a compilation of results from large-scale clinical trials of patients with diabetes.
Conclusions: Statins are highly efficacious as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol-lowering agents and have more modest effects on very low-density lipoprotein triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. The effects of statins on plasma lipids and lipoproteins result from their ability to both increase the efficiency with which very low-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein are cleared from the circulation and reduce the production of apoB-containing lipoproteins by the liver. Additional investigations are needed to clarify the mechanisms by which statins reduce apoB secretion from the liver.