Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacogenetics of Cholesterol-Lowering Therapy

Gerd Schmitz and Wolfgang Drobnik

Abstract

Cholesterol-lowering therapy is the central approach in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in industrialized countries. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) are currently the most potent and widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs. Large-scale clinical trials unequivocally demonstrated the efficacy of statin treatment in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. In general, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are well tolerated, although in a minority of patients severe adverse effects like myopathy or rhabdomyolysis may develop. The incidence of this potentially life-threatening side effects increases with co-adminstration of drugs that are metabolized via the same pharmacokinetic pathways or at high-dose statin therapy. The recent focus on the pleiotropic effects of statins that are more frequently observed at higher doses and the conclusion drawn from the large statin trials that low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol is “the lower the better”, may need careful consideration in individuals at risk of adverse drug reactions. On the other hand, not all patients respond to statin therapy with a reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. It is therefore of interest to develop diagnostic test systems, which would allow to identify patients at increased risk of adverse drug reactions or patients with a lack of therapeutic effect. Beside exogenous factors, genetic variability determines the response of an individual to drug therapy and the analysis of genetic variants affecting pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic aspects of drug therapy is the subject of pharmacogenomics. This review summarizes current knowledge of the pharmacology and the pharmacogenomics of statin therapy.

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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine ( CCLM) publishes articles on novel teaching and training methods applicable to laboratory medicine. CCLM welcomes contributions on the progress in fundamental and applied research and cutting-edge clinical laboratory medicine. It is one of the leading journals in the field, with an impact factor of over three. CCLM is the official journal of nine national clinical societies and associated with EFLM.

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