Atorvastatin combined to interferon to verify the efficacy (ACTIVE) in relapsing-remitting active multiple sclerosis patients: a longitudinal controlled trial of combination therapy.
Lanzillo R., Orefice G., Quarantelli M., Rinaldi C., Prinster A., Ventrella G., Spitaleri D., Lus G., Vacca G., Carotenuto B., Salvatore E., Brunetti A., Tedeschi G., Brescia Morra V.
A large body of evidence suggests that, besides their cholesterol-lowering effect, statins exert anti-inflammatory action. Consequently, statins may have therapeutic potential in immune-mediated disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Our objectives were to determine safety, tolerability and efficacy of low-dose atorvastatin plus high-dose interferon beta-1a in multiple sclerosis patients responding poorly to interferon beta-1a alone. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients, aged 18-50 years, with contrast-enhanced lesions or relapses while on therapy with interferon beta-1a 44 microg (three times weekly) for 12 months, were randomized to combination therapy (interferon + atorvastatin 20 mg per day; group A) or interferon alone (group B) for 24 months. Patients underwent blood analysis and clinical assessment with the Expanded Disability Status Scale every 3 months, and brain gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging at screening, and 12 and 24 months thereafter. Primary outcome measure was contrast-enhanced lesion number. Secondary outcome measures were number of relapses, EDSS variation and safety laboratory data. Forty-five patients were randomized to group A (n = 21) or B (n = 24). At 24 months, group A had significantly fewer contrast-enhanced lesions versus baseline (p = 0.007) and significantly fewer relapses versus the two pre-randomization years (p < 0.001). At survival analysis, the risk for a 1-point EDSS increase was slightly higher in group B than in group A (p = 0.053). Low-dose atorvastatin may be beneficial, as add-on therapy, in poor responders to high-dose interferon beta-1a alone.