Rosuvastatin improves endothelial function in patients with inflammatory joint diseases, longitudinal associations with atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis: results from the RORA-AS statin intervention study


INTRODUCTION: Endothelial dysfunction is an early step in the atherosclerotic process and can be quantified by flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD). Our aim was to investigate the effect of long-term rosuvastatin therapy on endothelial function in patients with inflammatory joint diseases (IJD) with established atherosclerosis. Furthermore, to evaluate correlations between change in FMD (ΔFMD) and change in carotid plaque (CP) height, arterial stiffness [aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) and augmentation index (AIx)], lipids, disease activity and inflammation. METHODS: Eighty-five statin-naïve patients with IJD and ultrasound-verified CP (rheumatoid arthritis: n = 53, ankylosing spondylitis: n = 24, psoriatic arthritis: n = 8) received rosuvastatin treatment for 18 months. Paired-samples t tests were used to assess ΔFMD from baseline to study end. Linear regression models were applied to evaluate correlations between ∆FMD and cardiovascular risk factors, rheumatic disease variables and medication. RESULTS: The mean ± SD FMD was significantly improved from 7.10 ± 3.14 % at baseline to 8.70 ± 2.98 % at study end (p textless 0.001). Improvement in AIx (p textless 0.05) and CP height reduction (p = 0.001) were significantly associated with ΔFMD (dependent variable). CONCLUSIONS: Long-term lipid lowering with rosuvastatin improved endothelial function in IJD patients with established atherosclerotic disease. Reduced arterial stiffness and CP regression were longitudinally correlated with the improvement in endothelial function measured by FMD. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01389388 . Registered 16 April 2010.

Arthritis Research & Therapy