HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors are ubiquitous in our community yet their potential role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains to be determined.
Objectives: To evaluate the effect of simvastatin on AMD progression and the effect modification by polymorphism in apolipoprotein E ( ApoE) and complement factor H ( CFH) genes. Design: A proof of concept double-masked randomized controlled study. Participants: 114 participants aged 53 to 91 years, with either bilateral intermediate AMD or unilateral non-advanced AMD (with advanced AMD in fellow eye), BCVA≥20/60 in at least one eye, and a normal lipid profile. Intervention: Simvastatin 40 mg/day or placebo, allocated 1∶1. Main outcome measures: Progression of AMD either to advanced AMD or in severity of non-advanced AMD. Results. The cumulative AMD progression rates were 70% in the placebo and 54% in the simvastatin group. Intent to treat multivariable logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age, sex, smoking and baseline AMD severity, showed a significant 2-fold decrease in the risk of progression in the simvastatin group: OR 0.43 (0.18–0.99), p = 0.047. Post-hoc analysis stratified by baseline AMD severity showed no benefit from treatment in those who had advanced AMD in the fellow eye before enrolment: OR 0.97 (0.27–3.52), p = 0.96, after adjusting for age, sex and smoking. However, there was a significant reduction in the risk of progression in the bilateral intermediate AMD group compared to placebo [adjusted OR 0.23 (0.07–0.75), p = 0.015]. The most prominent effect was observed amongst those who had the CC ( Y402H) at risk genotype of the CFH gene [OR 0.08 (0.02–0.45), p = 0.004]. No evidence of harm from simvastatin intervention was detected.
Simvastatin may slow progression of non-advanced AMD, especially for those with the at risk CFH genotype CC ( Y402H). Further exploration of the potential use of statins for AMD, with emphasis on genetic subgroups, is warranted.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN1260500032065