Context: Heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH) is a common disorder associated with early coronary artery disease, especially in men. The age at which drug therapy should be started is still controversial, as is the use of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins).
Objective: To assess the lipid-lowering efficacy, biochemical safety, and effect on growth and sexual development of lovastatin in adolescent boys with HeFH.
Design: One-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced, 2-period, 2-arm randomized trial. In the first period (24 weeks), lovastatin was increased at 8 and 16 weeks and the dosage remained stable during the second period (24 weeks). The study was conducted between 1990 and 1994.
Setting: Fourteen pediatric outpatient clinics in the United States and Finland.
Patients: Boys aged 10 to 17 years with HeFH. Of 132 randomized subjects (67 intervention, 65 placebo), 122 (63 intervention, 59 placebo) and 110 (61 intervention, 49 placebo) completed the first and second periods, respectively.
Intervention: Lovastatin, starting at 10 mg/d, with a forced titration at 8 and 16 weeks to 20 and 40 mg/d, respectively, or placebo.
Main outcome measures: The primary efficacy outcome measure was low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). Primary safety measures were growth and sexual development.
Results: Compared with placebo, LDL-C levels of patients receiving lovastatin decreased significantly (P<.001) by 17%, 24%, and 27% receiving dosages of 10, 20, and 40 mg/d, respectively, and remained 25 % lower than baseline at 48 weeks. Growth and sexual maturation assessed by Tanner staging and testicular volume were not significantly different between the lovastatin and placebo groups at 24 weeks (P = .85) and 48 weeks (P = .33); neither were serum hormone levels or biochemical parameters of nutrition. However, the study was underpowered to detect significant differences in safety parameters. Serum vitamin E levels were reduced with lovastatin treatment consistent with reductions in LDL-C, the major carrier of vitamin E in the circulation.
Conclusions: This study in adolescent boys with HeFH confirmed the LDL-C-reducing effectiveness of lovastatin. Comprehensive clinical and biochemical data on growth, hormonal, and nutritional status indicated no significant differences between lovastatin and placebo over 48 weeks, although further study is required.