Study Finds Statins Don't Slow Atherosclerosis in Pediatric SLE

No difference in mean-mean common carotid intima-media thickening with atorvastatin, placebo

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Atorvastatin therapy for three years has no significant effect on atherosclerosis progression, as measured by mean-mean common carotid intima-media thickening (CIMT), in a pediatric population with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), according to a study published online Oct. 26 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Laura Schanberg, M.D., from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues investigated the three-year efficacy and safety of atorvastatin therapy in preventing subclinical atherosclerosis progression in 221 patients with pediatric SLE. Participants (aged 10 to 21 years) were randomly allocated to receive atorvastatin or placebo, in addition to usual care. The primary end point, measured by ultrasound, was progression of mean-mean common CIMT, and secondary end points included other segment/wall-specific CIMT measures, SLE disease activity and damage outcomes, and levels of serum lipids and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP).

The investigators found that there was no significant difference between the groups for progression of the mean-mean common CIMT (P = 0.24). Lower hsCRP, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein levels were seen in the atorvastatin group, compared with the placebo group. Across all CIMT outcomes, CIMT progressed significantly in the placebo group. There was no significant difference in the serious adverse events and critical safety measured between the groups.

"Study results demonstrate no significant effect on subclinical atherosclerosis progression with routine statin use over three years in young SLE patients; however, further analyses may suggest subgroups that would benefit from targeted statin therapy," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, which provided the study drug and matching placebo.

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