Pleiotropic effects of statins. - Basic research and clinical perspectives -

Circ J. 2010 May;74(5):818-26. doi: 10.1253/circj.cj-10-0110. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Statins are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, which are widely used to lower serum cholesterol levels in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Recent experimental and clinical evidence suggests that the beneficial effects of statins may extend beyond their cholesterol-lowering effects, to include so-called pleiotropic effects. These cholesterol-independent effects include improving endothelial function, attenuating vascular and myocardial remodeling, inhibiting vascular inflammation and oxidation, and stabilizing atherosclerotic plaques. The mechanism underlying some of these pleiotropic effects is the inhibition of isoprenoid synthesis by statins, which leads to the inhibition of intracellular signaling molecules Rho, Rac and Cdc42. In particular, inhibition of Rho and one of its downstream targets, Rho kinase, may be a predominant mechanism contributing to the pleiotropic effects of statins. The aim of the present review is to provide an update on the non-cholesterol-dependent statin effects in the cardiovascular system and highlight some of the recent findings from bench to bedside to support the concept of statin pleiotropy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Terpenes / metabolism
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Terpenes
  • Cholesterol
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins