Febuxostat and carotid atherosclerosis in asymptomatic hyperuricemia
Tanaka, Atsushi Saga University
Taguchi, Isao Dokkyo Medical University
Teragawa, Hiroki JR Hiroshima Hospital
Ishizaka, Nobukazu Osaka Medical College
Kanzaki, Yumiko Osaka Medical College
Tomiyama, Hirofumi Tokyo Medical University
Sezai, Akira Nihon University
Eguchi, Kazuo Hanyu General Hospital
Kato, Toru National Hospital Organization, Tochigi Medical Center
Toyoda, Shigeru Dokkyo Medical University
Ishibashi, Ryoichi Kimitsu Chuo Hospital
Kario, Kazuomi Jichi Medical University
Ishizu, Tomoko University of Tsukuba
Ueda, Shinichiro University of the Ryukyus
Maemura, Koji Nagasaki University
Higashi, Yukihito Hiroshima University
Ohishi, Mitsuru Kagoshima University
Yokote, Kotaro Chiba University
Murohara, Toyoaki Nagoya University
Oyama, Jun-ichi Saga University
Node, Koichi Saga University
An elevated level of serum uric acid (SUA) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacological intervention with urate-lowering agents, such as the conventional purine analogue xanthine oxidase (XO) inhibitor, allopurinol, has been used widely for a long period of time in clinical practice to reduce SUA levels. Febuxostat, a novel non-purine selective inhibitor of XO, has higher potency for inhibition of XO activity and greater urate-lowering efficacy than conventional allopurinol. However, clinical evidence regarding the effects of febuxostat on atherosclerosis is lacking. The purpose of the study was to test whether treatment with febuxostat delays carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) progression in patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia.
Methods and findings
The study was a multicenter, prospective, randomized, open-label, blinded-endpoint clinical trial undertaken at 48 sites throughout Japan between May 2014 and August 2018. Adults with both asymptomatic hyperuricemia (SUA >7.0 mg/dL) and maximum IMT of the common carotid artery (CCA) ≥1.1 mm at screening were allocated equally using a central web system to receive either dose-titrated febuxostat (10–60 mg daily) or as a control-arm, non-pharmacological lifestyle modification for hyperuricemia, such as a healthy diet and exercise therapy. Of the 514 enrolled participants, 31 were excluded from the analysis, with the remaining 483 people (mean age 69.1 years [standard deviation 10.4 years], female 19.7%) included in the primary analysis (febuxostat group, 239; control group, 244), based on a modified intention-to-treat principal. The carotid IMT images were recorded by a single sonographer at each site and read in a treatment-blinded manner by a single analyzer at a central core laboratory. The primary endpoint was the percentage change from baseline to 24 months in mean IMT of the CCA, determined by analysis of covariance using the allocation adjustment factors (age, gender, history of type 2 diabetes, baseline SUA, and baseline maximum IMT of the CCA) as the covariates. Key secondary endpoints included changes in other carotid ultrasonographic parameters and SUA and the incidence of clinical events. The mean values (± standard deviation) of CCA-IMT were 0.825 mm ± 0.173 mm in the febuxostat group and 0.832 mm ± 0.175 mm in the control group (mean between-group difference [febuxostat − control], −0.007 mm [95% confidence interval (CI) −0.039 mm to 0.024 mm; P = 0.65]) at baseline; 0.832 mm ± 0.182 mm in the febuxostat group and 0.848 mm ± 0.176 mm in the control group (mean between-group difference, −0.016 mm [95% CI −0.051 mm to 0.019 mm; P = 0.37]) at 24 months. Compared with the control group, febuxostat had no significant effect on the primary endpoint (mean percentage change 1.2% [95% CI −0.6% to 3.0%] in the febuxostat group (n = 207) versus 1.4% [95% CI −0.5% to 3.3%] in the control group (n = 193); mean between-group difference, −0.2% [95% CI −2.3% to 1.9%; P = 0.83]). Febuxostat also had no effect on the other carotid ultrasonographic parameters. The mean baseline values of SUA were comparable between the two groups (febuxostat, 7.76 mg/dL ± 0.98 mg/dL versus control, 7.73 mg/dL ± 1.04 mg/dL; mean between-group difference, 0.03 mg/dL [95% CI −0.15 mg/dL to 0.21 mg/dL; P = 0.75]). The mean value of SUA at 24 months was significantly lower in the febuxostat group than in the control group (febuxostat, 4.66 mg/dL ± 1.27 mg/dL versus control, 7.28 mg/dL ± 1.27 mg/dL; mean between-group difference, −2.62 mg/dL [95% CI −2.86 mg/dL to −2.38 mg/dL; P < 0.001]). Episodes of gout arthritis occurred only in the control group (4 patients [1.6%]). There were three deaths in the febuxostat group and seven in the control group during follow-up. A limitation of the study was the study design, as it was not a placebo-controlled trial, had a relatively small sample size and a short intervention period, and only enrolled Japanese patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia.
In Japanese patients with asymptomatic hyperuricemia, 24 months of febuxostat treatment did not delay carotid atherosclerosis progression, compared with non-pharmacological care. These findings do not support the use of febuxostat for delaying carotid atherosclerosis in this population.
© 2020 Tanaka et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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