Medication used to lower cholesterol does not affect those with pre-radiographic knee osteoarthritis

A study conducted by Arthritis Research Canada has shown that the use of statins, traditionally utilized to lower cholesterol, is neither harmful nor beneficial to those with knee osteoarthritis.

The goal of this study, performed on people aged 40 to 79 years with predominantly pre-radiographic knee osteoarthritis and who were followed for 7 years, was to evaluate the association between statin use with incidence and/or progression of cartilage damage, effusion, osteophytes, and bone marrow lesions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pre-radiographic knee osteoarthritis refers to cartilage damage that can only be detected by MRI, in radiographically normal knees. Cartilage is the cushioning layer in the joints that gets worn away in people with osteoarthritis.

Previous research has studied the connection between statin use and osteoarthritis progression and shown contradicting results. All used radiographs as the primary outcome measure, a method that is unable to measure articular cartilage damage. MRI can detect early cartilage damage over a short time interval and has the advantage of being able to evaluate other tissue abnormalities that are involved in the osteoarthritis disease process.

“We found that those who used statins did not have worsening or improvement in cartilage damage on MRI, compared to the non-users,” said Dr. Jolanda Cibere, Senior Scientist at Arthritis Research Canada. “As a result, we conclude that statins are not harmful or beneficial in people with osteoarthritis.”

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Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose life-changing research is creating a future where people living with arthritis have the knowledge and tools to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is now conducting arthritis research from coast to coast with centres in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and scientists affiliated with six major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, McGill University, and Dalhousie University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at preventing arthritis, facilitating early diagnosis, finding new and better treatment, and improving quality of life.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Victoria Rubio

Marketing and Communications Officer
Arthritis Research Canada
604-207-4010 or vrubio@arthritisresearch.ca

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