Statins May Curb Rheumatoid Arthritis
Cholesterol-Fighting Statin Drugs Show Potential in Lab Tests
Jan. 30, 2006 -- Cholesterol-curbing drugs called statins may help treat
rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a new study shows.
In lab tests, statins prompted the death of certain joint cells involved in
rheumatoid arthritis, according to the researchers. They included Takao
Nagashima, MD, of St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki,
Some statins may have "potential" against rheumatoid arthritis,
write Nagashima and colleagues. But they aren't recommending statins for
rheumatoid arthritis since they didn't study any rheumatoid arthritis patients
directly and they tested high doses of the drugs.
Examples of statins include the brands Lipitor, Pravachol, and Zocor.
Stalking Cell Death
The study focused on synovial cells. Normally, synovial tissue makes
synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the joints are attacked by the body's immune
system. No one knows exactly how rheumatoid arthritis works, but out-of-control
synovial cells may play a key role in the joint damage, the researchers
Could statins control troublesome synovial cells? To find out, Nagashima's
team tested several Japanese-made statins on synovial cells.
One drug, fluvastatin, sparked synovial cell death. Another statin,
pravastatin, didn't have the same effect, the study shows.
Although these statins work similarly to improve cholesterol, they performed
differently with synovial cells, the researchers note. The doses used in the
experiment were about 10 times higher than normal prescriptions for cholesterol
Statins should be tested against rheumatoid arthritis in clinical trials,
write Nagashima and colleagues.