Thrombotic complications represent a highly significant component of morbidity and mortality associated with hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis. In this issue of the JCI, Owens et al. report possible mechanisms underlying the prothrombotic, proinflammatory state accompanying hypercholesterolemia. Using rodent, monkey, and human subjects, they show that circulating oxidized LDL and circulating monocyte-derived tissue factor are important instigating factors driving the thrombotic, inflammatory phenotype and, surprisingly, that statin therapy ameliorated the phenotype even in the absence of lowering cholesterol levels. The studies raise the intriguing possibility that therapies directed at pathways generating oxidant stress or pathways involved in transmitting oxidized LDL–mediated signals in circulating platelets and monocytes could have antiatherothrombotic potential, probably with minimal anticoagulant and hemorrhagic potential.
Roy L. Silverstein
Atherothrombotic processes occur both within the vessel wall (neointima) and in the circulation.