WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may help prevent miscarriages in women suffering from complications caused by the autoimmune disorder antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), a new study says.
In people with APS, the body produces antibodies that target phospholipids, the main components of cell membranes. APS is associated with a ninefold increased risk of miscarriage in women with low-risk pregnancies and a 90 percent risk of miscarriage in high-risk pregnancies (women who've had at least three prior pregnancy losses).
In this study, researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City found that injecting statins into mice with APS prevented activation of white blood cells that attack the placenta and harm the fetus. The findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
"Statins may work as a treatment for women with APS-induced pregnancy complications," study author Guillermina Girardi said in a Hospital for Special Surgery news release. "They are drugs that have been shown to be very safe. There are a lot of women who continue to take statins throughout pregnancy, and the drugs have not been shown to produce birth defects."
Girardi noted that statins don't increase the risk of bleeding like anticoagulants, the current treatment for APS.
Further studies should be conducted to confirm the safety of statins in pregnant women.
"Women that are antiphospholipid antibody positive and have a history of previous miscarriages are a good group to perform a clinical trial," Girardi said.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about APS.