Background: Although extensive experimental evidence supports a primary role of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) in atherosclerosis, few data exist concerning the functional properties of these cells and their pharmacological modulation in high-risk individuals.
Objective: The production of the proinflammatory chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8), migration and chemotaxis, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation were investigated in a longitudinal study in PMNs obtained from high-risk individuals during statin treatment. As a secondary endpoint we compared PMN function of high-risk patients with that of controls.
Methods and results: PMNs were isolated from 21 high-risk individuals before treatment and 3 and 30 days after the beginning of simvastatin treatment, and from healthy controls. During treatment a significant reduction was observed both in resting (P = 0.009) and N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP)-stimulated (P = 0.008) IL-8 production, and in the chemotactic index (P = 0.038), whereas ROS generation did not significantly change. In comparison with cells from controls, PMNs obtained from patients before starting simvastatin treatment showed higher resting and fMLP-stimulated IL-8 release (P = 0.007 and P = 0.002, respectively) and ROS generation (resting, P = 0.009; and fMLP-stimulated, P = 0.046), whereas migration and the chemotactic index did not significantly differ.
Conclusions: An activation of neutrophils is present in high-risk individuals, shown by the enhanced production of IL-8, and increased ROS generation. The 4-week statin treatment is able to reduce the cell capability to produce IL-8, and to decrease chemotaxis, thus affecting the proinflammatory properties of PMNs.