The Effects of Atorvastatin Therapy on Rheological Characteristics of Erythrocyte Membrane, Serum Lipid Profile and Oxidative Status in Patients with Dyslipidemia
The effects of 2 months treatment with simvastatin (40 mg, 20 mg p.o. daily) or placebo on erythrocyte membrane cholesterol content and acyl chain composition have been studied in 36 patients with a clinical history of atherosclerosis enrolled in the Oxford Cholesterol Study. All patients received advice corresponding to a standard phase 1 cholesterol-lowering diet. As expected the mean serum total cholesterol fell substantially (-26.5%, 20 mg simvastatin, P < 0.05; -32.7%, 40 mg simvastatin, P < 0.05) compared to placebo (-6.3%, ns). However, mean erythrocyte cholesterol content did not change significantly in any group (2 months therapy: 20 mg simvastatin, -0.62%; 40 mg simvastatin, +2.2%; placebo, -4.2%). Erythrocyte cholesterol was also unaltered after 5 months of therapy. Erythrocyte osmotic fragility was unchanged in the treatment and placebo groups. In the placebo group dietary advice alone was associated with a significant increase in the linoleic acid content of erythrocytes from 9.4 mole% of total acyl chains to 11.8 mole% (P < 0.05). Treatment with simvastatin was associated with an increase in the arachidonic acid content of the erythrocyte membrane from 12.2 to 15.3 mole% (P < 0.05). Treatment with simvastatin does not alter erythrocyte cholesterol content, but does alter acyl chain distribution. These results suggest that the chemical potential of cholesterol in serum is not markedly altered by HMG-CoA reductase inhibition.