Atorvastatin is a statin currently used to reduce triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL, low-density lipoprotein) levels in the blood, and increase those of good cholesterol (HDL, high-density lipoprotein).

Studies of atorvastatin to treat scleroderma-related vascular disease have shown a lower severity and frequency of Raynaud’s phenomenon and less digital ulcer formation (ulcers on fingers). The use of statins for Raynaud’s phenomenon is currently limited to people with scleroderma and recurrent finger ulcerations who don’t respond to current therapies. Their use is in addition to medications already prescribed. Atorvastatin’s effectiveness with Raynaud’s phenomenon is related to the ability of statins to simultaneously produce more than one benefit — they can help protect the body’s vascular system and prevent vascular conditions.

Statins are safe, low-cost drugs that feature good patient tolerability, which may represent a clinical benefit for people with scleroderma. Common side effects are joint pain, diarrhea, and nasopharyngitis.

Studies involving atorvastatin and Raynaud’s phenomenon

A Phase 2 study (NCT02370784) of the effect of atorvastatin on microvascular endothelial function and Raynaud’s in early diffuse systemic sclerosis is currently recruiting participants. This 16-week study aims to show improved blood vessel function and Raynaud’s phenomenon symptoms.

Blood vessel injury is thought to take place during early disease phases. Raynaud’s phenomenon, finger and toe ulcers, and pulmonary hypertension in systemic sclerosis all involve blood vessel complications.

Researchers conducting the study hope that earlier use of disease-targeting therapies will delay blood vessel changes and improve Raynaud’s symptoms. If results are positive, they plan to conduce a larger, multicenter study.

Results from this Phase 2 study are expected in 2017.

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