Background: Inflammation plays a fundamental role in atherothrombosis. Yet, whether direct inhibition of inflammation will reduce the occurrence of adverse cardiovascular outcomes is not known.
Design: The Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT) (ClinicalTrials.govNCT01594333) will randomly allocate 7,000 patients with prior myocardial infarction (MI) and either type 2 diabetes or the metabolic syndrome to low-dose methotrexate (target dose 15-20 mg/wk) or placebo over an average follow-up period of 3 to 5 years. Low-dose methotrexate is a commonly used anti-inflammatory regimen for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lacks significant effects on lipid levels, blood pressure, or platelet function. Both observational and mechanistic studies suggest that low-dose methotrexate has clinically relevant antiatherothrombotic effects. The CIRT primary end point is a composite of nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke, and cardiovascular death. Secondary end points are all-cause mortality, coronary revascularization plus the primary end point, hospitalization for congestive heart failure plus the primary end point, all-cause mortality plus coronary revascularization plus congestive heart failure plus the primary end point, incident type 2 diabetes, and net clinical benefit or harm. CIRT will use standardized central methodology designed to ensure consistent performance of all dose adjustments and safety interventions at each clinical site in a manner that protects the blinding to treatment but maintains safety for enrolled participants.
Summary: CIRT aims to test the inflammatory hypothesis of atherothrombosis in patients with prior MI and either type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, conditions associated with persistent inflammation. If low-dose methotrexate reduces cardiovascular events, CIRT would provide a novel therapeutic approach for the secondary prevention of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death.
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