Statin therapy lowers muscle sympathetic nerve activity and oxidative stress in patients with heart failure

Shekhar H Deo, James P Fisher, Lauro C Vianna, Areum Kim, Anand Chockalingam, Matthew C Zimmerman, Irving H Zucker, Paul J Fadel

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Despite standard drug therapy, sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) remains high in heart failure (HF) patients making the sympathetic nervous system a primary drug target in the treatment of HF. Studies in rabbits with pacing-induced HF have demonstrated that statins reduce resting SNA, in part, due to reductions in reactive oxygen species (ROS). Whether these findings can be extended to the clinical setting of human HF remains unclear. We first performed a study in seven statin-naïve HF patients (56 ± 2 yr; ejection fraction: 31 ± 4%) to determine if 1 mo of simvastatin (40 mg/day) reduces muscle SNA (MSNA). Next, to control for possible placebo effects and determine the effect of simvastatin on ROS, a double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover design study was performed in six additional HF patients (51 ± 3 yr; ejection fraction: 22 ± 4%), and MSNA, ROS, and superoxide were measured. We tested the hypothesis that statin therapy decreases resting MSNA in HF patients and this would be associated with reductions in ROS. In study 1, simvastatin reduced resting MSNA (75 ± 5 baseline vs. 65 ± 5 statin bursts/100 heartbeats; P <0.05). Likewise, in study 2, simvastatin also decreased resting MSNA (59 ± 5 placebo vs. 45 ± 6 statin bursts/100 heartbeats; P <0.05). In addition, statin therapy significantly reduced total ROS and superoxide. As expected, cholesterol was reduced after simvastatin. Collectively, these findings indicate that short-term statin therapy concomitantly reduces resting MSNA and total ROS and superoxide in HF patients. Thus, in addition to lowering cholesterol, statins may also be beneficial in reducing sympathetic overactivity and oxidative stress in HF patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H377-85
JournalAJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


  • Sympathetic Nervous System
  • Heart Failure
  • Antioxidants
  • Blood Pressure
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Simvastatin
  • Missouri
  • Humans
  • Superoxides
  • Cholesterol
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Heart Rate
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Biological Markers
  • Female
  • Male
  • Stroke Volume


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