Statins are beneficial both in the primary and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic vascular disease and acute events in a broad spectrum of patient subgroups. However, the observed clinical benefit with statin therapy is much greater than expected through the reduction of cholesterol levels alone. Clinical and experimental studies suggested that several antiatherosclerotic effects other than lipid lowering also contribute to the observed benefit of statin therapy. These ‘pleiotropic effects’ include improvement of endothelial function, antitrombotic actions, plaque stabilization, reduction of the vascular inflammatory process and anti-oxidation. Statins may also exhibit a wide variety of actions other than antiatherosclerotic effects. Recent observational data documented a potential association between statin use and improvement of fracture risk in osteoporosis. Despite the lack of randomized trials, epidemiological and limited clinical data suggested that statins might retard the pathogenesis of Alzheimers disease. Observational data indicated that the progression of aortic stenosis and valvular calcification might be delayed in statin users. In addition, the deterioration of congestive heart failure may be delayed with statins via anti-inflammatory, vascular endothelial and antiatherosclerotic actions. Furthermore, preliminary clinical studies suggested that, by their immunosuppressive actions statins might reduce the incidence of rejection following organ transplantation. Currently, there is not enough evidence to prescribe therapy for such patients. However, ongoing studies are exploring the role of statin therapy for these new indications. This review will discuss several non-lipid effects of statin therapy currently under investigation.
Keywords: statins, osteoporosis, dementia, aortic stenosis, heart failure, immunomodulation
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