Hospital for Special Surgery researchers have found that anti-cholesterol drugs known as statins may be able to prevent miscarriages in women who are suffering from antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). In this autoimmune syndrome, the body produces antibodies directed at phospholipids, the main components of cell membranes.
In low risk pregnancies, APS is associated with a nine-fold increase in miscarriage. In high-risk pregnancies (women who have had at least three prior losses), APS is associated with a 90 percent risk of miscarriage.
"Statins may work as a treatment for women with APS-induced pregnancy complications," said researcher Guillermina Girardi, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "They are drugs that have been shown to be very safe. There are a lot of women who continue to take statins through pregnancy and the drugs have not been shown to produce birth defects. Statins do not increase the risk of bleeding like anticoagulants, the current treatment for patients with APS."
During pregnancy, women are advised to discontinue most medications, including statins. But Dr. Girardi says that no fetal defects have been reported in women who have continued to use statins while pregnant. The researchers say that careful studies should be conducted to confirm the safety of statins in pregnancy in humans. "Women that are antiphospholipid antibody positive and have a history of previous miscarriages are a good group to perform a clinical trial," Dr. Girardi told the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The study could also have implications for other conditions. "The study reveals a relationship between tissue factor and PAR2 in inflammation that could have implications for understanding chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis," said Dr. Girardi. Tissue factor expression is a characteristic feature of conditions such as sepsis, atherosclerosis, Crohn's disease, and lupus. Finding a way to manipulate tissue factor and PAR2 could lead to treatments for these diseases
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Source: Hospital for Special Surgery