BACKGROUND: There is growing evidence that statins exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidative vascular actions that are independent of lipid lowering. We tested whether hyporeactivity to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine (ACh) and the vasoconstrictor norepinephrine (NE) during acute experimental inflammation could be prevented by simvastatin. METHODS AND RESULTS: In a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group study, forearm blood flow (FBF) responses to NE, ACh, and the endothelium-independent vasodilator nitroglycerin (NTG) were assessed at baseline, after 4 days of simvastatin 80 mg PO or placebo treatment, and during Escherichia coli endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide [LPS])-induced inflammation in 20 healthy volunteers. Additionally, markers of inflammation and neutrophil oxidative burst were assessed. Simvastatin and placebo had no effect on FBF or oxidative/inflammatory markers. LPS administration decreased the responses of FBF to NE by 43% (P<0.05) and decreased responses to ACh by 48% (P<0.05) but did not decrease FBF responses to NTG. Simvastatin completely preserved responses to NE and to ACh. The LPS-induced increases in neutrophil oxidative burst and plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha concentrations were mitigated by simvastatin (P<0.05 versus placebo). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates potent vasoprotective properties of high-dose simvastatin during endotoxemia that may be useful for patients with acute systemic inflammation and associated vascular hyporeactivity.
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