A type of white blood cell called macrophage is responsible for the accumulation of fat in blood vessels, leading to inflammation and plaque formation on the inner linings of the vessel. Macrophages produce enzymes called lipases that have been shown to promote fat accumulation in blood vessels.
Drugs called statins decrease the accumulation of fat in macrophages but their effects on lipases have not been explored yet, researchers say.
John S. Hill and colleagues studied the effect of a statin drug called atorvastatin on two lipases, called lipoprotein lipase and endothelial lipase, which break down different types of fats.
The researchers showed that the statin significantly reduced the levels of both lipases in macrophages and described in detail the proteins that are affected within the macrophages.
These results may help to understand how other statin drugs work and could help design better drugs against heart disease in the future, the scientists conclude.
The paper entitled "Atorvastatin Decreases Lipoprotein Lipase and Endothelial Lipase Expression in Human THP-1 Macrophages," is published in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.