Hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) are widely used lipid-lowering agents. In addition to their well-known effect on cholesterol levels, statins have been reported to display antiinflammatory activities both in vitro and in vivo. In this context, in vivo prophylactic and therapeutic effects of simvastatin were recently demonstrated in mouse collagen-induced arthritis, a well-described experimental model for human rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of this study was to further investigate in vivo effects of 3 different statins, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin, using the same experimental model.
Different doses and routes of administration were used for the various statins in an attempt to elicit antiarthritic activity in preventive and curative treatment protocols.
Atorvastatin and rosuvastatin had no in vivo efficacy, as indicated by clinical, histologic (synovial hyperplasia, exudate, and cartilage damage), immunologic (anti–type II collagen IgG production), and biochemical (interleukin-6, serum amyloid A, and glucocorticoid production) parameters of inflammation and autoimmunity. The previously described beneficial effects of administration of intraperitoneal simvastatin were reproduced in our experiments, but could be accounted for by very severe side effects of the treatment, leading to increased glucocorticoid levels.
This work shows that different statins have no effect in a murine model of arthritis, an unexpected observation given the previously described therapeutic effect of statins in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. It is still unclear whether statins will have benefit in the treatment of RA.