Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and low grade arterial inflammation are key pathogenic factors for atherosclerosis and its manifestation, cardiovascular disease (CVD).


In this narrative review we assessed if decreasing LDL-C levels or inflammation or both is more effective in reducing CVD events.


In the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S), all statin trials of the 90s’ and the Further Cardiovascular Outcomes Research with PCSK9 Inhibition in Subjects with Elevated Risk (FOURIER) the benefit came from the LDL-C reduction. In the GREak and Atorvastatin Coronary heart disease Evaluation (GREACE), the Treating to New Targets (TNT), and the Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin (JUPITER) trials both mechanisms in combination produced significant benefits. In the Atorvastatin for Reduction of MYocardial Damage during Angioplasty (ARMYDA) trials and the Canakinumab Antiinflammatory Thrombosis Outcome Study (CANTOS) with a human antibody targeting IL-1β with no lipid lowering effect, the reduction in arterial inflammation played the only beneficial role because there was no change in lipids levels.


Both LDL-C and inflammation reduction are beneficial to the reduction of CVD risk. However, canakinumab is a very expensive drug that only induced a 15% reduction in CVD events, thus drastically reducing the possibility for it to be used in clinical practice. Besides, canakinumab is associated with increased infections, some fatal. A potent statin with anti-inflammatory effects is probably the best choice for the majority of those needing hypolipidaemic drug therapy.

Keywords: LDL-C, Inflammation, Cardiovascular events, Statins, Ezetimibe, PCSK9 inhibitors.
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