Clinical Chemistry, Volume 67, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 131–142,
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Inflammation links to atherosclerosis and its complications in various experimental investigations. Animal studies have implicated numerous inflammatory mediators in the initiation and complication of atherosclerosis. Numerous studies in humans have shown associations of biomarkers of inflammation with cardiovascular events provoked by atheromata. Inflammatory status, determined by the biomarker C-reactive protein, can guide the allocation of statin therapy to individuals without elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) concentrations to prevent first ever adverse cardiovascular events.
Until recently, no direct evidence has shown that an intervention that selectively limits inflammation can improve outcomes in patients with atherosclerosis. A recent study, based on decades of preclinical investigation, treated patients who had sustained a myocardial infarction and whose LDL was well-controlled on statin treatment with an antibody that neutralizes interleukin-1 beta. This trial, conducted in over 10 000 individuals, showed a reduction in major adverse cardiac events, establishing for the first time the clinical efficacy of an anti-inflammatory intervention in atherosclerosis. Two large subsequent studies have shown that colchicine treatment can also prevent recurrent events in patients recovering from an acute coronary syndrome or in the stable phase of coronary artery disease. These clinical trials have transformed inflammation in atherosclerosis from theory to practice.
Much work remains to optimize further anti-inflammatory interventions, minimize unwanted actions, and refine patient selection. This long road from discovery in the laboratory to successful clinical trials represents a victory for medical science, and opens a new avenue to reducing the risk that remains despite current treatments for atherosclerosis.
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