The effects of 3-month atorvastatin therapy on arterial inflammation, calcification, abdominal adipose tissue and circulating biomarkers

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Abstract

Purpose

18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT has the potential to track vascular inflammation and monitor therapeutic response. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between arterial inflammation, calcification and serological biomarkers in subjects with atherosclerosis, and to assess their therapeutic response to 12-week atorvastatin treatment.

Methods

Forty-three statin-naïve subjects with atherosclerosis received atorvastatin (40 mg/day) for 12 weeks and underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT, coronary calcification and abdominal adipose tissue volume measurements. A panel of serological biomarkers was analysed. Arterial inflammation was measured at seven arterial segments and normalized to venous FDG activity to produce target to background ratios (TBR). Thirty-four subjects without cardiovascular disease who repeated PET 1-4 years apart for routine health check-ups were retrospectively evaluated for comparison.

Results

The baseline mean TBR values in atherosclerotic patients were positively correlated with age (R = 0.36), body mass index (R = 0.54), abdominal visceral adipose tissue volume (R = 0.65), coronary calcification score (R = 0.40), levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (R = 0.54), matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 (R = 0.46) and fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4) (R = 0.67, all p < 0.05). The TBR as well as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), E-selectin, MMP-9, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, FABP4 and follistatin values were reduced significantly after the 12-week atorvastatin treatment. The TBR reduction marginally correlated with changes in MMP-9 levels (R = 0.56, p = 0.05). The control group, whose median age was younger, by comparison had lower hsCRP and arterial TBR than the subjects with atherosclerosis (all p < 0.05), and moreover had a slight but insignificant increase in mean TBR at their 2.5±0.8 year follow-up.

Conclusion

The medium dose of atorvastatin over a 12-week period resulted in a significant reduction of arterial inflammation as well as various circulating biomarkers.

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