Oral high-dose atorvastatin treatment in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent data from animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and from a pilot study indicated a possible beneficial impact of statins on MS. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Safety, tolerability and effects on disease activity of atorvastatin given alone or in combination with interferon-beta (IFN-beta) were assessed in a phase II open-label baseline-to-treatment trial in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Patients with at least one gadolinium-enhancing lesion (CEL) at screening by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were eligible for the study. After a baseline period of 3 monthly MRI scans (months -2 to 0), patients followed a 9-month treatment period on 80 mg atorvastatin daily. The number of CEL in treatment months 6 to 9 compared to baseline served as the primary endpoint. Other MRI-based parameters as well as changes in clinical scores and immune responses served as secondary endpoints. Of 80 RRMS patients screened, 41 were included, among them 16 with IFN-beta comedication. The high dose of 80 mg atorvastatin was well tolerated in the majority of patients, regardless of IFN-beta comedication. Atorvastatin treatment led to a substantial reduction in the number and volume of CEL in two-sided multivariate analysis (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008). A trend towards a significant decrease in number and volume of CEL was also detected in patients with IFN-beta comedication (p = 0.060 and p = 0.062), in contrast to patients without IFN-beta comedication (p = 0.170 and p = 0.140). Immunological investigations showed no suppression in T cell response but a significant increase in IL-10 production. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our data suggest that high-dose atorvastatin treatment in RRMS is safe and well tolerated. Moreover, MRI analysis indicates a possible beneficial effect of atorvastatin, alone or in combination with IFN-beta, on the development of new CEL. Thus, our findings provide a rationale for phase II/III trials, including combination of atorvastatin with already approved immunomodulatory therapy regimens. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00616187.

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Paul, F., Waiczies, S., Wuerfel, J., Bellmann-Strobl, J., Dörr, J., Walczies, H., … Zipp, F. (2008). Oral high-dose atorvastatin treatment in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. PLoS ONE, 3(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001928

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