The results of a new Japanese study show that the cholesterol-fighting drugs known as statins may help in thetreatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study indicatedthat the drugs prompted the death of certain joint cellsinvolved in RA. These findings were reported in the February2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
The researchers found that statins, specifically fluvastatin,induced cell death in synovial cells, which are believed toplay a key role in RA. These cells normally produce synovialfluid, which lubricates the joints. In patients with RA, however,the joints are attacked by the body's own immune system,and it is thought that out-of-control synovial cells maycontribute to RA. The investigators tested both fluvastatinand pravastatin on problem cells, both in doses ~10 timesgreater than would normally be prescribed for high cholesterol.Only fluvastatin was found to bring on cell death.
The researchers stated that, although these results areencouraging, clinical trials involving statins used in RApatients need to be conducted for a further understandingof the connection.