The effect of atorvastatin (and subsequent metformin) on adipose tissue acylation-stimulatory-protein concentration and inflammatory biomarkers in overweight/obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Thozhukat Sathyapalan, James P. Hobkirk, Zeeshan Javed, Sean Carroll, Anne Marie Coady, Philip Pemberton, Alexander Smith, Katherine Cianflone, Stephen Atkin

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Background: Atorvastatin has been shown to improve cardiovascular risk (CVR) indices in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Low-grade chronic inflammation of adipose tissue may link PCOS and adverse CVR. In pro-inflammatory states such as PCOS, spontaneous activation of the alternative pathway of complement results in increased generation of acylation stimulating protein (ASP) from adipocytes irrespective of body mass index. Methods: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of atorvastatin on markers of adipose tissue dysfunction and inflammation; acylation-stimulating-protein (ASP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and monocyte-chemoattractant-protein-1 (MCP-1) in PCOS. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study where 40 medication-naive women with PCOS and biochemical hyperandrogenaemia were randomized to either atorvastatin 20 mg daily or placebo for 12 weeks. Following the 12 week randomization; both group of women with PCOS were subsequently started on metformin 1,500 mg daily for further 12 weeks to assess whether pre-treatment with atorvastatin potentiates the effects of metformin on markers of adipose tissue function We conducted a post-hoc review to detect plasma ASP and the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL6 and MCP-1 before and after 12 and 24 weeks of treatment. Results: There was significant reduction in ASP (156.7 ± 16.2 vs. 124.4 ± 14.8 ng/ml p <0.01), IL-6 (1.48 ± 0.29 vs. 0.73 ± 0.34 pg/ml p = 0.01) and MCP-1 (30.4 ± 4.2 vs. 23.0 ± 4.5 pg/ml p = 0.02) after 12 weeks of atorvastatin that was maintained subsequently with 12 weeks treatment with metformin. There was a significant positive correlation between ASP levels with CRP (p < 0.01), testosterone (p < 0.01) and HOMA-IR (p < 0.01); IL-6 levels with CRP (p <0.01) and testosterone (p < 0.01) and MCP-1 with CRP (p < 0.01); testosterone (p < 0.01) and HOMA-IR (p < 0.02). Conclusions: This post-hoc analysis revealed that 12 weeks of atorvastatin treatment significantly decreased the markers of adipose tissue dysfunction and inflammation, namely ASP, IL-6 and MCP-1 in obese women with PCOS. Changes in adipose tissue markers were significantly associative with substantial improvements in HOMA-IR, testosterone and hs-CRP levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number394
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019



  • Acylation-stimulating-protein
  • Adipose tissue
  • Atorvastatin
  • Interleukin-6
  • Monocyte-chemoattractant-protein-1
  • PCOS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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