Postprandial hyperlipidemia has been linked to premature coronary artery disease (CAD) in fasting normotriglyceridemic patients. We investigated the effects of increasing doses of simvastatin up to 80 mg/day on fasting and postprandial lipoprotein metabolism in 18 normotriglyceridemic patients with premature CAD. Fasting lipoprotein subfractions and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) activity were determined after each 5-week dose titration (0, 20, 40 and 80 mg/day). At baseline and after treatment with simvastatin 80 mg/day, standardised Vitamin A oral fat loading tests (50 g/m 2; 10 h) were carried out. Ten normolipidemic healthy control subjects matched for gender, age and BMI underwent tests without medication. Treatment with simvastatin resulted in dose-dependent reductions of fasting LDL-cholesterol, without changing cholesterol levels in the VLDL-1, VLDL-2 and IDL fractions. In addition, simvastatin decreased CETP activity dose-dependently, although HDL-cholesterol remained unchanged. Simvastatin 80 mg/day decreased fasting plasma triglycerides (TG) by 26% (P < 0.05), but did not decrease significantly TG levels in any of the subfractions. The TG/cholesterol ratio increased in all subfractions. The plasma TG response to the oral fat loading test, estimated as area under the curve (TG-AUC), improved by 30% (from 21.5 ± 2.5 to 15.1 ± 1.9 mmol h/L; P < 0.01). Treatment with simvastatin 80 mg/day improved chylomicron remnant clearance (RE-AUC) by 36% from 30.0 ± 2.6 to 19.2 ± 3.3 mg h/L (P < 0.01). After therapy, remnant clearance in patients was similar to controls (19.2 ± 3.3 and 20.3 ± 2.7 mg h/L, respectively), suggesting a normalization of this potentially atherogenic process. In conclusion, high-dose simvastatin has beneficial effects in normotriglyceridemic patients with premature CAD, due to improved chylomicron remnant clearance, besides effective lowering of LDL-cholesterol. In addition, the lipoprotein subfractions became more cholesterol-poor, as reflected by the increased TG/cholesterol ratio, which potentially makes them less atherogenic.

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Department of Molecular Genetics

van Wijk, J. P. H., Buirma, R., van Tol, A., Halkes, C., de Jaegere, P., Plokker, H., … Castro Cabezas, M. (2005). Effects of increasing doses of simvastatin on fasting lipoprotein subfractions, and the effect of high-dose simvastatin on postprandial chylomicron remnant clearance in normotriglyceridemic patients with premature coronary sclerosis. Atherosclerosis, 178(1), 147–155. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2004.08.009