2004 Volume 11 Issue 5 Pages 253-264
The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or "statins", are used as cholesterol-lowering agents worldwide. Statins inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis, leading to enhanced uptake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the circulation via LDL receptors. This strong cholesterol-lowering action contributes to the beneficial effects of statins. For example, large clinical trials have demonstrated that statins significantly reduce cardiovascular risk. Recent research has shown that statins have other multiple actions involved in endothelial function, cell proliferation, inflammatory response, immunological reactions, platelet function, and lipid oxidation. These "pleiotropic actions" of statins probably provide a significant contribution to the reduction of cardiovascular events. This review summarizes the pleiotropic actions of statins in both basic and clinical studies. It also considers the potential for statin therapy in the treatment of stroke and dementia.