New study shows statins ineffective at fighting cardiovascular disease in Lupus patients

Statins are a cornerstone, first-line therapy for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. But a new study led by researchers from NYU Long Island School of Medicine shows them to be ineffective in patients with the auto-immune disease Lupus.

As reported in the study, published online in Medicina, a research team at NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Biomedical Research Institute found that while statins typically slow down the production of cholesterol, Lupus patients are faced with a different dilemma: they do not typically overproduce cholesterol. Instead, the macrophages of Lupus patients, like white blood cells, eat the cholesterol without appropriately processing it and shedding it. This results in bloated cells overloaded with cholesterol, which, in turn, create fatty streaks that can lead to artery-narrowing plaque.

“The blood plasma of Lupus patients turns out to be a very toxic environment for accumulating lipid,” said lead author Allison Reiss, MD, head of the Inflammation Laboratory at NYU Winthrop’s Research Institute and associate professor at the NYU Long Island School of Medicine. “The white blood cells exposed to Lupus plasma become overloaded with lipid, leading to clogged blood vessels. Since statins proved to be ineffective in altering the bloated state of these cells, it’s important to explore other drugs that are better alternatives.”

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