Lipid-lowering therapy with statins reduces microparticle shedding from endothelium, platelets and inflammatory cells

Thromb Haemost. 2013 Aug;110(2):366-77. doi: 10.1160/TH13-03-0238. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


Hyperlipidaemia is a causal factor in the ethiopathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Statins are the cornerstone drug therapy for LDL-cholesterol (LDL-c) lowering, that exert beneficial effects beyond lipid lowering. Circulating microparticles (cMPs), microvesicles released by activated cells into the bloodstream, are markers of vascular and inflammatory cell activation with tentative role in disease progression. However, the role of statins on cMPs seems controversial. We aimed at the evaluation of the effects of lipid-lowering treatment (LLT) on cMP generation in patients in primary prevention of atherosclerosis. A case-control study was conducted in hypercholesterolaemic patients receiving LLT with statins and normocholesterolaemic controls (LLT+ and LLT-, respectively, n=37/group), matched by age, gender and LDL-c levels. cMPs were characterised by flow cytometry using annexin-V and cell-specific antibodies. In LLT+-patients overall numbers of cMPs (p<0.005) were lower than in controls. Levels of cMPs carrying parental cell markers from vascular and circulating cell origin (platelet, endothelial cell, pan-leukocyte and specific-leukocyte subsets) were significantly lower in blood of LLT+ compared to LLT--patients. Moreover, MPs from LLT+-patients had reduced markers of activated platelets (αIIbβ3-integrin), activated inflammatory cells (αM-integrin) and tissue factor. The effect of LLT on cMP shedding was found to be accumulative in years. cMP shedding associated to cardiovascular risk in LLT+-patients. In summary, at similar plasma cholesterol levels patients on statin treatment had a significant lower number of cMPs carrying markers of activated cells. These findings indicate that statins protect against vascular cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Annexin A5 / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / drug effects*
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / metabolism
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / pathology
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood*
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Prevention
  • Thromboplastin / metabolism


  • Annexin A5
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Thromboplastin