Pharmacological actions of statins: potential utility in COPD R.P. Young*, R. Hopkins * and T.E. Eaton # ABSTRACT: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by minimally reversible airflow limitation and features of systemic inflammation. Current therapies for COPD have been shown to reduce symptoms and infective exacerbations and to improve quality of life. However, these drugs have little effect on the natural history of the disease (progressive decline in lung function and exercise tolerance) and do not improve mortality. The anti-inflammatory effects of statins on both pulmonary and systemic inflammation through inhibition of guanosine triphosphatase and nuclear factor-kB mediated activation of inflammatory and matrix remodelling pathways could have substantial benefits in patients with COPD due to the following. 1) Inhibition of cytokine production (tumour necrosis factor-a, interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8) and neutrophil infiltration into the lung; 2) inhibition of the fibrotic activity in the lung leading to small airways fibrosis and irreversible airflow limitation; 3) antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (IL-6 mediated) effects on skeletal muscle; 4) reduced inflammatory response to pulmonary infection; and 5) inhibition of the development (or reversal) of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a precursor event to lung cancer. This review examines the pleiotropic pharmacological action of statins which inhibit key inflammatory and remodelling pathways in COPD and concludes that statins have considerable potential as adjunct therapy in COPD
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