Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) accelerates plaque progression despite the use of statin therapy. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the determinants of atheroma progression in statin-treated patients with DM.
Methods: Coronary atherosclerosis in nonculprit lesions in a vessel undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was evaluated using virtual histology intravascular ultrasound. The study included 50 patients with DM who had been taking statin therapy for 8 months at the time of PCI.
Results: Twenty-six patients (52%) showed atheroma progression (progressors) and the remaining 24 patients (48%) showed atheroma regression (regressors) after 8 months of follow-up. Fewer progressors than regressors received intensive lipid-lowering therapy with pitavastatin (31% vs. 50%, p = 0.17) and the frequency of insulin use was higher in progressors (31% vs. 13%, p = 0.18). However, neither of these differences reached statistical significance. Risk factor control at baseline and at the 8-month follow-up did not differ between the 2 groups except for serum levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Univariate regression analysis showed that serum EPA (r = -0.317, p = 0.03) and DHA (r = -0.353, p = 0.02) negatively correlated with atheroma progression. Multivariate stepwise regression analysis showed that low serum DHA and pravastatin use were significant independent predictors for atheroma progression during statin therapy (DHA: β = -0.414, type of statin: β = -0.287, p = 0.001).
Conclusions: Low serum DHA is associated with progression of coronary atherosclerosis in statin-treated patients with DM.
Trial registration: UMIN Clinical Trials Registry, UMIN ID: C000000311.