Plaque regression--a new target for antiatherosclerotic therapy.

Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
American heart journal (Impact Factor: 4.56). 04/2005; 149(3):384-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ahj.2004.11.003
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Statins do not always decrease coronary heart disease mortality, which was speculated based on increased serum plant sterols observed during statin treatment. To evaluate plant sterol atherogenicity, we fed low density lipoprotein-receptor deficient (LDLr(+/-)) mice for 35 weeks with Western diets (control) alone or enriched with atorvastatin or atorvastatin plus plant sterols or stanols. Atorvastatin decreased serum cholesterol by 22% and lesion area by 57%. Adding plant sterols or stanols to atorvastatin decreased serum cholesterol by 39% and 41%. Cholesterol-standardized serum plant sterol concentrations increased by 4- to 11-fold during sterol plus atorvastatin treatment versus stanol plus atorvastatin treatment. However, lesion size decreased similarly in the sterol plus atorvastatin (-99% vs. control) and the stanol plus atorvastatin (-98%) groups, with comparable serum cholesterol levels, suggesting that increased plant sterol concentrations are not atherogenic. Our second study confirms this conclusion. Compared with lesions after a 33 week atherogenic period, lesion size further increased in controls (+97%) during 12 more weeks on the diet, whereas 12 weeks with the addition of plant sterols or stanols decreased lesion size (66% and 64%). These findings indicate that in LDLr(+/-) mice 1) increased cholesterol-standardized serum plant sterol concentrations are not atherogenic, 2) adding plant sterols/stanols to atorvastatin further inhibits lesion formation, and 3) plant sterols/stanols inhibit the progression or even induce the regression of existing lesions.
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