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Imaging Shows Value of Statins in Lupus

July 26, 2011

CT coronary artery calcium scoring showed a slight regression in plaque after one year of treatment with atorvastatin (Lipitor) in cardiovascular symptom-free patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, a Polish study found.

While no significant changes were seen in calcium score or volume in those randomized to statins, those taking placebo had increases in both: from 32.1 to 59.5 in the score and 35.2 to 62.9 in the volume (P<0.05 for both), according to Wojciech Plazak, MD, of Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and colleagues.

Additionally, there was no need for anyone in the statin group to stop taking the drug, as tests revealed no changes in the activity of alanine and aspartate aminotransferase nor creatine phosphokinase, the researchers reported online in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Inflammation has been implicated in both systemic lupus erythematosus and atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease today is the primary cause of mortality in patients with lupus, researchers wrote.

"Interestingly, the magnitude of the protection and decrease in mortality afforded by statins cannot be explained entirely by their cholesterol-lowering effect," observed Plazak and colleagues.

These drugs also have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve endothelial function, and have been advocated for patients with lupus who have coronary artery disease, but the recommendations were based on their efficacy in non-lupus populations.

Researchers therefore enrolled 60 patients with established but stable lupus, randomizing them to 40 mg atorvastatin or placebo each day.

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Source medpagetoday.com