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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2002 Apr;56(1):1-11.

Simvastatin retards progression of retinopathy in diabetic patients with hypercholesterolemia.

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Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi 110 029, India.


Besides hyperglycemia and hypertension, a recently recognized risk factor for diabetic retinopathy (DR) appears to be hyperlipidemia. While studies using earlier generation lipid lowering agents in DR were disappointing, a randomized trial using HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors has strong rationale, though hitherto not attempted. The aim of the present study was to compare the HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitor, simvastatin, with placebo in patients having DR in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Fifty patients with diabetes mellitus (Type 1 and 2) with good glycemic control and hypercholesterolemia and having DR (non-clinically significant macular edema and visual acuity 6/24 or better) in either or both eyes were randomized to simvastatin 20-mg per day or placebo, and were followed up for 180 days. On simvastatin therapy, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) decreased (P < 0.001, respectively), and the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) increased (P < 0.001). VA improved in four patients using simvastatin, (not statistically different from placebo group) and worsening of VA occurred in seven patients in the placebo group and none in the simvastatin group (P = 0.009). Fundus fluorescein angiography and color fundus photograph showed improvement in one patient in the simvastatin group, while seven patients showed worsening in the placebo group (P = 0.009). The observations of the current study suggest that the HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitor simvastatin significantly retards the progression of retinopathy in diabetic patients with hypercholesterolemia. The potential of this class of drugs for the primary prevention of DR and other microvascular complications needs to be explored further.

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