Pravastatin and Clopidogrel Combined Inhibit Intimal Hyperplasia in a Rat Carotid Endarterectomy Model

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Intimal hyperplasia, resulting from a complex cascade of events involving platelets, leukocytes, and smooth muscle cells, may be inhibited by the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor pravastatin, which demonstrates inhibition of platelet activity and leukocyte adhesion and may be associated with inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration. Clopidogrel, an adenosine diphosphate (ADP) receptor inhibitor, was shown to decrease platelet activity and aggregation but not intimal hyperplasia (IH). We postulated that the combination of both pravastatin and clopidogrel would significantly decrease IH in a rat carotid endarterectomy model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 18) divided by treatment regimen underwent treatment for 2 weeks both before and after an open carotid endarterectomy. Serum collected at the time of harvest was measured for C-reactive protein (CRP), platelet activity, and total serum cholesterol; carotid arteries were removed and processed for IH determination. Control rats (n = 7) received oral vehicle daily before and following endarterectomy. Pravastatin-alone rats (n = 6) received oral pravastatin (10 mg/kg/day) before and after endarterectomy. Pravastatin plus clopidogrel rats (n = 5) received oral pravastatin (10 mg/kg/day) plus a preendarterectomy bolus of oral clopidogrel (4.3 mg/kg) before endarterectomy and resumed pravastatin (10 mg/kg/day) plus oral clopidogrel (1 mg/kg/day) postendarterectomy. Pravastatin alone and pravastatin plus clopidogrel significantly decreased CRP compared to controls (120.2 ±11.2 and 134.1 ±9.9 vs 191.1 ±9.2 μg/mL, respectively p = 0.003 and p = 0.0024). CRP levels were not different between pravastatin alone and pravastatin plus clopidogrel (p = 0.35). Platelet activity was significantly decreased by pravastatin alone and pravastatin plus clopidogrel in comparison to controls (7.3 ±2.2 and 6.6 ±2.8 vs 19.2 ±6.1 platelet reactive units (PRU), respectively p = 0.048 and p = 0.045). No significant difference was noted in platelet activity between pravastatin alone and pravastatin plus clopidogrel (p = 0.89). Pravastatin plus clopidogrel significantly reduced serum cholesterol compared to control and pravastatin alone (84.0 ±6.6 vs 110.4 ±7.4 and 117.0 ±8.8 mg/dL, respectively p = 0.03 and p = 0.01). Pravastatin alone did not decrease serum cholesterol compared to controls (p = 0.54). IH was not reduced by pravastatin alone compared to controls (p = 0.61) but was significantly decreased by pravastatin plus clopidogrel in comparison to control and pravastatin alone (3.0 ±1.1 vs 46.3 ±13.7 and 37.4 ±14.6% luminal stenosis, respectively p = 0.01 and p = 0.05). Pravastatin plus clopidogrel significantly decreased CRP, platelet activity, total serum cholesterol, and IH while pravastatin alone decreased only CRP and platelet activity. Intimal hyperplasia reduction may therefore be dependent on other contributors, possibly growth factors, cytokines, and oxidative stress. The combination of pravastatin plus clopidogrel may have synergistic or even additional inhibitory effects on IH. Pravastatin plus clopidogrel was effective in decreasing IH in a rat carotid endarterectomy model and may prove a useful therapy for IH reduction in the clinical setting.

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