, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 55-93
Date: 17 Sep 2012

Current, New and Future Treatments in Dyslipidaemia and Atherosclerosis

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Abstract

The new therapeutic options available to clinicians treating dyslipidaemia in the last decade have enabled effective treatment for many patients. The development of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) have been a major advance in that they possess multiple pharmacological effects (pleiotropic effects) resulting in potent reductions of low density lipoproteins (LDL) and prevention of the atherosclerotic process. More recently, the newer fibric acid derivatives have also reduced LDL to levels comparable to those achieved with statins, have reduced triglycérides, and gemfibrozil has been shown to increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Nicotinic acid has been made tolerable with sustained-release formulations, and is still considered an excellent choice in elevating HDL cholesterol and is potentially effective in reducing lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] levels, an emerging risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD). Furthermore, recent studies have reported positive lipid-lowering effects from estrogen and/or progestogen in post-menopausal women but there are still conflicting reports on the use of these agents in dyslipidaemia and in females at risk for CHD. In addition to lowering lipid levels, these antihyperlipidaemic agents may have directly or indirectly targeted thrombogenic, fibrinolytic and atherosclerotic processes which may have been unaccounted for in their overall success in clinical trials.

Although LDL cholesterol is still the major target for therapy, it is likely that over the next several years other lipid/lipoprotein and nonlipid parameters will become more generally accepted targets for specific therapeutic interventions. Some important emerging lipid/lipoprotein parameters that have been associated with CHD include elevated triglyceride, oxidised LDL cholesterol and Lp(a) levels, and low HDL levels. The nonlipid parameters include elevated homocysteine and fibrinogen, and decreased endothelial-derived nitric oxide production. Among the new investigational agents are inhibitors of squalene synthetase, acylCoA: cholesterol acyltransferase, cholesteryl ester transfer protein, monocyte-macrophages and LDL cholesterol oxidation. Future applications may include thyromimetic therapy, cholesterol vaccination, somatic gene therapy, and recombinant proteins, in particular, apolipoproteins A-I and E. Non-LDL-related targets such as peroxisome proliferator-activating receptors, matrix metalloproteinases and scavenger receptor class B type I may also have clinical significance in the treatment of atherosclerosis in the near future.

Before lipid-lowering therapy, dietary and lifestyle modification is and should be the first therapeutic intervention in the management of dyslipidaemia. Although current recommendations from the US and Europe are slightly different, adherence to these recommendations is essential to lower the risk of atherosclerotic vascular disease, more specifically CHD. New guidelines that are expected in the near future will encompass global opinions from the expert scientific community addressing the issue of target LDL goal (aggressive versus moderate lowering) and the application of therapy for newer emerging CHD risk factors.