Cholesterol medication may repair heart.

Position:Cardiovascular System

The drug pravastatin--the generic name of one of the statins currently prescribed to lower cholesterol--may provide a previously unknown cardiovascular benefit in addition to lowering lipids. Researchers at the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) have found that it increases the concentration of endogenous stem cells that may participate in cardiac repair independent of any cholesterol-lowering action.

Scientists also discovered that high doses improved cardiac function and coronary blood flow in an animal model in which flow had been artificially restricted, creating a condition known as hibernating myocardium (where heart cells reduce their function and oxygen needs and become dormant in response to insufficient blood flow).

"It is well known that stem cells have the potential to regenerate organs," relates Gen Suzuki, research assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "In the field of cardiology, adult stem cells isolated from bone marrow currently are being used to repair damaged heart tissue. Many animal and early clinical studies using this source of stem cells are ongoing right now."

Earlier reports have shown that HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, known as statins, increase the number of circulating bone-marrow-derived or hemotopoietic stem cells in blood...

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