Anti-inflammatory Action of Statins in Cardiovascular Disease: the Role of Inflammasome and Toll-Like Receptor Pathways

Khadijeh Koushki, Sanaz Keshavarz Shahbaz, Kazem Mashayekhi, Mahvash Sadeghi, Zeinab Deris Zayeri, Mahdieh Yousefi Taba, Maciej Banach, Khalid Al-Rasadi, Thomas P. Johnston, Amirhossein Sahebkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerosis is one type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in which activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and toll-like receptor (TLR) pathways is implicated. One of the most effective treatments for atherosclerosis is the use of statin medications. Recent studies have indicated that statins, in addition to their lipid-lowering effects, exert inhibitory and/or stimulatory effects on the NLRP3 inflammasome and TLRs. Some of the statins lead to activation of the inflammasome and subsequently cause secretion of IL-1β and IL-18. Thus, these actions may further aggravate the disease. On the other hand, some statins cause inhibition of the inflammasome or TLRs and along with lipid-lowering, help to improve the disease by reducing inflammation. In this article, we discuss these contradictory studies and the mechanisms of action of statins on the NLRP3 inflammasome and TLR pathways. The dose-dependent effects of statins on the NLRP3 complex are related to their chemistry, pharmacokinetic properties, and danger signals. Lipophilic statins have more pleiotropic effects on the NLRP3 complex in comparison to hydrophilic statins. Statins can suppress TLR4/MyD88/NF-ĸB signaling and cause an immune response shift to an anti-inflammatory response. Furthermore, statins inhibit the NF-ĸB pathway by decreasing the expression of TLRs 2 and 4. Statins are cost-effective drugs, which should have a continued future in the treatment of atherosclerosis due to both their immune-modulating and lipid-lowering effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-199
Number of pages25
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammasome
  • NLRP3
  • Statins
  • TLR2
  • TLR4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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