COPD is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs associated with an abnormal inflammatory response to noxious particles, the most prevalent of which is cigarette smoke. Studies have demonstrated that cigarette smoking is associated with activation of the bone marrow, and chronic smoking can lead to the inflammatory changes seen in COPD. Due to the inflammatory nature of the disease, medications affecting the inflammatory pathway may have clinical benefit and are being evaluated. One such class of medications, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, have been evaluated in the COPD population. Early studies have suggested that HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors have a variety of benefits in COPD including improvements in inflammatory markers, exacerbation rates, and mortality rates. However, the majority of this data comes from retrospective cohort studies, suggesting the need for randomized controlled trials. Recently, two randomized controlled trials, STATCOPE and RODEO, evaluated the benefit of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors in the COPD population and found no benefit in exacerbation rates and vascular or pulmonary function, respectively. These results are reflected in practice guidelines, which do not support the use of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors for the purpose of reducing COPD exacerbations.
Keywords: HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; statins.