Article Text

Long-term pleiotropic effect of statins upon nitric oxide and C-reactive protein levels in patients with peripheral arterial disease
  1. S Bleda,
  2. J De Haro,
  3. A Florez,
  4. C Varela,
  5. L Esparza,
  6. F Acin
  1. Department of Vascular Surgery and Angiology, Getafe University Hospital, Getafe, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joaquin De Haro, C/Playa de America 24, 28669, Boadilla del Monte, Madrid, Spain; deharojoaquin{at}


Objectives Peripheral arterial disease can be regarded as a systemic inflammatory disorder affecting the entire vascular system. In the early clinical stages, it is characterised by the deterioration of endothelial function, which does not progress with the development of the disease. This study analyses the pleiotropic effects upon the plasma nitrite and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in claudicating patients after 12 months of treatment with statins.

Study design A prospective randomised controlled translational study was made in patients with Fontaine grade II ischaemia, treated with the best medical treatment with or without statins for 12 months from the time of diagnosis for assessing the pleiotropic effects of those statins.

Methods Measurements of plasma high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP), lipid profile and nitrites were made at baseline and after 1 month and 1 year of treatment with atorvastatin 40 mg/day.

Results A significant reduction in nitrite levels was observed after 1 month of treatment (11.8±7.8 μM vs 5.7±1.8 μM, p=0.0001), but this effect did not persist after 1 year (11.8±7.8 μM vs 9.4±8.9 μM, p=0.27). HsCRP underwent a significant reduction after both 1 month (7 (2.2–12) vs 3.4 (1.6–5.5), p<0.01) and 1 year of treatment with atorvastatin (7 (2.2–12) vs 2.25 (1.67–6.7), p=0.02). Statin treatment reduced hsCRP levels in 9.64 (95% CI (1.60 to 17.68)) after 1 month and in 9.14 (95% CI (0.18 to 18.47)) after 1 year.

Conclusions The long-term biological pleiotropic effects of statins provide information on the role of endothelial function and systemic inflammation in the aetiopathogenesis of peripheral arterial disease. Statins slow endothelial degradation at the start of the disease, with no effects over the long term. These drug substances reduce progressive inflammation throughout the treatment period. This supports the novel hypothesis that endothelial dysfunction is only a disease-triggering phenomenon, while systemic inflammation would be responsible for both the origin and the maintenance of peripheral arterial disease.

  • Endothelium
  • endothelial function
  • gene therapy
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • aorta
  • great vessels and trauma

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Ethics Committee of Hospital Universitario de Getafe.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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