Statin therapy fails to slow progression of atherosclerosis in pediatric lupus patients

October 27, 2011

Atorvastatin therapy was found to be ineffective in reducing atherosclerosis progression in children and adolescents with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Results of the Atherosclerosis Prevention in Pediatric Lupus Erythematosus (APPLE) Trial, now available in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), report that the statin therapy did trend toward positive effect of treatment and may benefit patients with more severe SLE who were not included in the trial.

The ACR reports that SLE affects 322,000 adult Americans. Exact figures for pediatric SLE cases are difficult to establish, but the best estimate is that 5,000 to 10,000 children in the U.S. have lupus (Lehman 1996). One of the long-term complications of SLE for both adult and pediatric is accelerated atherosclerosis—a build-up of plaque in the aterial wall which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Medical evidence reports that SLE patients are up to 8 times more likely to develop premature coronary heart disease, compared to the general population. Women with lupus are 50 times more likely to have a heart attack than healthy premenopausal women.

"The prognosis for pediatric patients has significantly improved over the last few decades, however diagnosis at an earlier age subjects these patients to greater cardiovascular risk from systemic and treatment side effects over a longer time period," explains lead investigator, Dr. Laura Schanberg with the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Previous studies show children with SLE have more severe organ damage, and longer exposure to illness and potentially toxic treatments compared with adults.

Prevalence of atherosclerosis in pediatric SLE is unknown, but precursors of the disease such as thickening of aterial artery walls as measured by carotid intima-media thickening (CIMT), have been reported. Statins have been shown to reduce atherosclerosis progression in adults, but have not been investigated in a pediatric SLE population. The APPLE Trial assessed 36-month therapy with atorvastatin, commercially known as Lipitor®, in 221 SLE patients between 10 and 21 years of age at 21 sites in North America. Participants were randomized, with 113 receiving treatment with atorvastatin and 108 a placebo at 10 or 20 mg/day (depending on weight). Researchers determined effectiveness of therapy by progression CIMT as measured by ultrasound.

"Our results demonstrate no significant effect on progression of atherosclerosis in children and with SLE who were treated with atorvastatin use over the 3-year period," concluded Dr. Christy Sandborg from Stanford University School of Medicine in California and co-primary investigator of the Apple Trial. "Further study of subgroups of SLE patients that may benefit from is warranted." While ineffective in reducing progression of atherosclerosis in this study population, atorvastatin was determined to be safe and well tolerated.

In a related editorial also published today in & Rheumatism, Dr. Angelo Ravelli from the 1Università degli Studi di Genova and Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico in Italy said, "Although the APPLE Trial found atorvastatin to be ineffective in pediatric SLE patients with low to moderate disease activity, a trend toward positive effect was detected. This indicates that while statin therapy may not be necessary in all SLE patients, preventative statin therapy may benefit those with more severe disease activity." Post-hoc subgroup analyses of the APPLE Trial are underway which may uncover those patient groups who may benefit from treatment with .

Explore further: Study shows the HPV vaccine Gardasil doesn't increase disease activity in SLE patients

More information: "Use of Atorvastatin in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Children and Adolescents." L. E. Schanberg, C. Sandborg, H. X. Barnhart, S. P. Ardoin, E. Yow, G. W. Evans, K. L. Mieszkalski, N. T. Ilowite, A. Eberhard, L. F. Imundo, Y. Kimura, E. von Scheven, E. Silverman, S. L. Bowyer, L. Punaro, N. G. Singer, D. D. Sherry, D. McCurdy, M. Klein-Gitelman, C. Wallace, R. Silver, L. Wagner-Weiner, G. C. Higgins, H. I. Brunner, L. Jung, J. B. Soep, A. M. Reed, J. Provenzale, and S. D. Thompson. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: Oct. 27, 2011 (DOI: 10.1002/art.30645).

Editorial: "Should Children and Adolescents with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus be Given Statin Therapy to Prevent Early Atherosclerosis?" Angelo Ravelli. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: Oct. 27, 2011 (DOI: 10.1002/art.30642).

Related Stories

Study shows the HPV vaccine Gardasil doesn't increase disease activity in SLE patients

May 26, 2011
Results of a Chinese study showed that the HPV vaccine did not have significant effects on the number of disease flares or antibody measures in patients with inactive SLE receiving stable doses of medications after administration, ...

African-Americans with SLE more responsive to flu vaccine than patients of European descent

May 19, 2011
New research shows that African Americans with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) had a higher antibody response to influenza vaccination than European American patients. Treatment with prednisone, a history of hemolytic ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.