Statins may slow progression of knee osteoarthritis, study finds

Published on 11 April 2012
Statins may slow progression of knee osteoarthritis, study finds

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may help to delay the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee, new research suggests.

However the study, which was conducted by scientists at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, found no such benefit for osteoarthritis of the hip.

The research team studied data on 2,921 people, all of whom were 55 years of age or older.

Participants had x-rays performed on their knees and hips at the start of the study and again after about 6.5 years to see whether they had osteoarthritis.

The researchers found that, overall, progression of knee osteoarthritis occurred in 6.9 per cent of patients, while progression of hip osteoarthritis occurred in 4.7 per cent of participants.

However, they observed that statin users were much less likely to experience knee osteoarthritis progression, although the drugs did not have any effect on the progression of hip disease.

Publishing their findings in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the study authors revealed: "Statin use is associated with more than a 50 per cent reduction in overall progression of osteoarthritis of the knee, but not of the hip."

The findings are perhaps unsurprising, as statins are able to modulate many of the processes involved in osteoarthritis, such as inflammation and blood vessel changes.

Commenting on the difference in the effect of statins on the knee and hip joints, the researchers suggested that this "may indicate a difference between the causes of osteoarthritis in the knee and the hip".