Low-density lipoprotein-dependent and -independent effects of cholesterol-lowering therapies on C-reactive protein: a meta-analysis

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 May 22;49(20):2003-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2007.01.083. Epub 2007 May 4.


Objectives: This study sought to assess the contribution of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-dependent and LDL-independent effects of LDL-lowering therapies to changes in C-reactive protein (CRP) in healthy or stable subjects.

Background: Correlations of change in LDL and CRP in individuals are lowered by their measurement variability. By using average changes in LDL and CRP in study groups, meta-analysis reduces this variability to better assess their correlation.

Methods: A systematic search for randomized placebo-controlled trials reporting change in LDL and CRP with LDL-lowering interventions retrieved 23 studies with 57 groups treated with a variety of statins, nonstatin drugs, or other regimens. Meta-analysis techniques assessed the relationships between average mean differences (placebo - treatment) in change in CRP and LDL.

Results: The overall reduction in CRP was 28% (95% confidence interval 26% to 30%). Significantly greater CRP reduction occurred in statin and statin-ezetimibe interventions, interventions using 80 mg/day of statins, and with greater LDL lowering. Meta-regression analysis showed a strong correlation between the change in LDL and CRP (r = 0.80, p < 0.001). Statin therapies had no significant effect on CRP after adjusting for the change in LDL. In a multivariate model applied to a range of LDL reduction typically seen with statins (20% to 60%), 89% to 98% of CRP change was related to LDL lowering and 2% to 11% was related to non-LDL effects of statins.

Conclusions: In clinical practice, most of the anti-inflammatory effect of LDL-lowering therapies is related to the magnitude of change in LDL. The potential non-LDL effects of statins on inflammation are much smaller in magnitude.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azetidines / therapeutic use
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • C-Reactive Protein / drug effects*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ezetimibe
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Azetidines
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ezetimibe