The Statin-Iron Nexus: Anti-Inflammatory Intervention for Arterial Disease Prevention

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We postulated the existence of a statin-iron nexus by which statins improve cardiovascular disease outcomes at least partially by countering proinflammatory effects of excess iron stores.


Using data from a clinical trial of iron (ferritin) reduction in advanced peripheral arterial disease, the Iron and Atherosclerosis Study, we compared effects of ferritin levels versus high-density lipoprotein to low-density lipoprotein ratios (both were randomization variables) on clinical outcomes in participants receiving and not receiving statins.


Statins increased high-density lipoprotein to low-density lipoprotein ratios and reduced ferritin levels by noninteracting mechanisms. Improved clinical outcomes were associated with lower ferritin levels but not with improved lipid status.


There are commonalities between the clinical benefits of statins and the maintenance of physiologic iron levels. Iron reduction may be a safe and low-cost alternative to statins.

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