Pitavastatin and HDL: Effects on plasma levels and function(s)

Angela Pirillo, Alberico L. Catapano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Low high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels represent an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease; in addition to the reduced HDL-C levels commonly observed in patients at cardiovascular risk, the presence of dysfunctional HDL, i.e. HDL with reduced atheroprotective properties, has been reported. Despite the established inverse correlation between HDL-C levels and cardiovascular risk, several clinical trials with HDL-C-increasing drugs (such as niacin, CETP inhibitors or fibrate) failed to demonstrate that a significant rise in HDL-C levels translate into a cardiovascular benefit. Statins, that are the most used lipid-lowering drugs, can also increase HDL-C levels, although this effect is highly variable among studies and statins; the most recent developed statin, pitavastatin, beside its role as LDL-C-lowering agent, increases HDL-C levels at a significantly higher extent and progressively upon treatment; such increase was observed also when patients where shifted from another statin to pitavastatin. The stratification by baseline HDL-C levels revealed that only pitavastatin significantly increased HDL-C levels in patients with baseline HDL-C ≤45 mg/dl, while no changes were observed in patients with higher baseline HDL-C levels. In the last years the hypothesis that functional properties of HDL may be more relevant than HDL-C levels has risen from several observations. The treatment with pitavastatin not only increased HDL-C levels, but also increased the phospholipid content of HDL, increased the HDL efflux capacity and their anti-oxidant properties. These observations suggest that, besides its high LDL-C-lowering effect, pitavastatin also exhibits a significantly higher ability to increase HDL-C levels and may also positively affect the quality and functionality of HDL particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e9
JournalAtherosclerosis Supplements
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholesterol
  • High density lipoproteins
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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