Although a change in life-style is often the method of first choice for lipid lowering, lipid-lowering drugs, in general, help to control elevated levels of different forms of lipids in patients with hyperlipidemia. While one group of drugs, statins, lowers cholesterol, the other group, fibrates, is known to take care of fatty acids and triglycerides. In addition, other drugs, such as ezetimibe, colesevelam, torcetrapib, avasimibe, implitapide, and niacin are also being considered to manage hyperlipidemia. As lipids are very critical for cardiovascular diseases, these drugs reduce fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular abnormalities in the general population. However, a number of recent studies indicate that apart from their lipidlowering activities, statins and fibrates exhibit multiple functions to modulate intracellular signaling pathways, inhibit inflammation, suppress the production of reactive oxygen species, and modulate T cell activity. Therefore, nowadays, these drugs are being considered as possible therapeutics for several forms of human disorders including cancer, autoimmunity, inflammation, and neurodegeneration. Here I discuss these applications in the light of newly discovered modes of action of these drugs.
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Received 5 September 2005; received after revision 29 December 2005; accepted 26 January 2006