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Evaluating the efficacy of statins and ACE-inhibitors in reducing gastrointestinal toxicity in patients receiving radiotherapy for pelvic malignancies

Published:March 05, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2011.12.034

      Abstract

      Introduction

      3-Hydroxy-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase inhibitors (statins) improve survival following pelvic irradiation for cancer. Large studies suggest that patients with hypertension may have reduced gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity. Animal data suggest that statins and ACE inhibitors (ACEi) may protect against normal tissue injury. Their efficacy in humans has not been reported.

      Aims/methods

      To evaluate the impact of statins and ACEi on normal tissue toxicity during radical pelvic radiotherapy. GI symptomatology was recorded prospectively before radiotherapy, weekly during treatment and 1 year later using the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire – Bowel (IBDQ-B) subset. Cumulative acute toxicity (IBDQ-B AUC) and worst score were determined. Dose, brand and duration of statin and/or ACEi usage were obtained from General Practitioners.

      Results

      Of 308 patients recruited, 237 had evaluable acute drug and toxicity data and 164 had data at 1 year. Acutely, 38 patients (16%) were taking statins, 39 patients (16.5%) were taking ACEi and 18 patients (7.6%) were taking statin + ACEi. Mean changes in acute scores were 7.3 points (non-statin users), 7.3 (non-ACEi users) and 7.0 (non-statin + ACEi users) compared to 4.8 points (statin users), 5.0 points (ACEi users) and 4.9 points (statin + ACEi users). Statin use (p = 0.04) and combined statin + ACEi use (p = 0.008) were associated with reduced acute IBDQ-B AUC after controlling for baseline scores (ANOVA). At 1 year, users maintained higher IBDQ-B scores than non-users in all user subgroups.

      Conclusion

      Use of statin or statin + ACEi medication during radical pelvic radiotherapy significantly reduces acute gastrointestinal symptoms scores and also appears to provide longer-term sustained protection.

      Keywords

      1. Introduction

      Clinical evidence suggests that the cholesterol-lowering agents, 3-hydroxy-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase inhibitors, ‘statins’, improve outcomes following therapeutic irradiation for pelvic cancers. Of three studies conducted between 2009 and 2011 in 3340 prostate cancer patients of whom 23–27% of patients reported using statins, two studies
      • Kollmeier M.A.
      • Katz M.S.
      • Mak K.
      • et al.
      Improved biochemical outcomes with statin use in patients with high-risk localised prostate cancer treated with radiotherapy.
      • Gutt R.
      • Tonlaar N.
      • Kunnavakkam R.
      • et al.
      Statin use and risk of prostate cancer recurrence in men treated with radiation therapy.
      (n = 2372) showed significant improvements in PSA relapse free survival and freedom from biochemical failure respectively in statin users versus non-users whilst a third study
      • Soto D.E.
      • Daignault S.
      • Sandler H.M.
      • et al.
      No effect of statins on biochemical outcomes after radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer.
      (n = 968) showed no effect. In a smaller study of 349 rectal cancer patients
      • Katz M.S.
      • Minsky B.D.
      • Saltz L.B.
      • et al.
      Association of statin use with a pathologic complete response to neoadjuvant chemoradiation for rectal cancer.
      of whom 9% were reportedly taking statins, a significantly improved complete pathological response rate following radiotherapy was reported in statin users and in a further study of 286 bladder cancer patients
      • Tsai H.K.
      • Katz M.S.
      • Coen J.J.
      • et al.
      Association of statin use with improved local control in patients treated with selective bladder preservation for muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
      (12% reporting statin use) improved local control was reported in statin users on univariate (but not multivariate) analysis. The mechanism of action is attributed to enhanced sensitisation of tumour cells to cytocidal irradiation.
      However, statins may also be protective for normal tissues. The mechanism of action is (at least partly) via blockade of the enzyme HMGCoA reductase and thus a reduced cellular pool of mevalonate derived isoprenoid intermediates required for the activation of Rho (ras homologous) GTPases and consequently the Rho/ROCK (Rho-associated kinase) signalling pathway. Impedance results in downstream inhibition of pro-fibrotic and pro-inflammatory cytokines, attenuation of mediators of vascular damage and failure to respond to cytokine or growth factor mediated stimulation. In-vitro investigations have clearly demonstrated the anti-inflammatory,
      • Gaugler M.H.
      • Vereycken-Holler V.
      • Squiban C.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin limits endothelial activation after irradiation and decreases the resulting inflammatory and thrombotic responses.
      anti-fibrotic
      • Haydont V.
      • Mathe D.
      • Bourgier C.
      • et al.
      Induction of CTGF by TGF-b1 in normal and radiation enteritis human smooth muscle cells: Smad/Rho balance and therapeutic perspectives.
      • Haydont V.
      • Bourgier C.
      • Pocard M.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin inhibits the Rho/CCN2/extracellular matrix cascade in human fibrosis explants and improves radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in rats.
      and anti-thrombotic
      • Haydont V.
      • Mathe D.
      • Bourgier C.
      • et al.
      Induction of CTGF by TGF-b1 in normal and radiation enteritis human smooth muscle cells: Smad/Rho balance and therapeutic perspectives.
      • Haydont V.
      • Bourgier C.
      • Pocard M.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin inhibits the Rho/CCN2/extracellular matrix cascade in human fibrosis explants and improves radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in rats.
      potential of pravastatin in irradiated human cell lines whilst low dose lovastatin
      • Nubel T.
      • Damrot J.
      • Roos W.P.
      • et al.
      Lovastatin protects human endothelial cells from killing by ionising radiation without impairing induction and repair of DNA double strand breaks.
      has been shown to be radio-protective in human endothelial cells. In-vivo investigations of the efficacy of pravastatin
      • Haydont V.
      • Bourgier C.
      • Pocard M.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin inhibits the Rho/CCN2/extracellular matrix cascade in human fibrosis explants and improves radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in rats.
      • Haydont V.
      • Gilliot O.
      • Rivera S.
      • et al.
      Successful mitigation of delayed radiation injury using pravastatin is not associated with acute injury improvement or tumour protection.
      simvastatin
      • Wang J.
      • Boerma M.
      • Fu Q.
      • et al.
      Simvastatin ameliorates radiation enteropathy development after localised, fractionated irradiation by a protein C-independent mechanism.
      and lovastatin
      • Ostrau C.
      • Hulsenbeck J.
      • Herzog M.
      • et al.
      Lovastatin attenuates ionising radiation-induced normal tissue damage.
      in animal models employing exteriorised irradiated small bowel
      • Haydont V.
      • Bourgier C.
      • Pocard M.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin inhibits the Rho/CCN2/extracellular matrix cascade in human fibrosis explants and improves radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in rats.
      • Haydont V.
      • Gilliot O.
      • Rivera S.
      • et al.
      Successful mitigation of delayed radiation injury using pravastatin is not associated with acute injury improvement or tumour protection.
      • Wang J.
      • Boerma M.
      • Fu Q.
      • et al.
      Simvastatin ameliorates radiation enteropathy development after localised, fractionated irradiation by a protein C-independent mechanism.
      and total body irradiation
      • Ostrau C.
      • Hulsenbeck J.
      • Herzog M.
      • et al.
      Lovastatin attenuates ionising radiation-induced normal tissue damage.
      have demonstrated reversal of established intestinal fibrosis,
      • Haydont V.
      • Bourgier C.
      • Pocard M.
      • et al.
      Pravastatin inhibits the Rho/CCN2/extracellular matrix cascade in human fibrosis explants and improves radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in rats.
      mitigation of delayed intestinal enteropathy,
      • Haydont V.
      • Gilliot O.
      • Rivera S.
      • et al.
      Successful mitigation of delayed radiation injury using pravastatin is not associated with acute injury improvement or tumour protection.
      significantly reduced ileal injury after fractionated treatment
      • Wang J.
      • Boerma M.
      • Fu Q.
      • et al.
      Simvastatin ameliorates radiation enteropathy development after localised, fractionated irradiation by a protein C-independent mechanism.
      and attenuated expression of pro-fibrotic, inflammatory and thrombotic markers in a tissue and time dependent manner.
      • Ostrau C.
      • Hulsenbeck J.
      • Herzog M.
      • et al.
      Lovastatin attenuates ionising radiation-induced normal tissue damage.
      No clinical studies have yet reported on these topics.
      ACE (angiotensin I-converting enzyme) inhibitors (ACEi) may also have a role in the reduction of radiation-induced toxicity. These anti-hypertensive agents block enzymatic conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II playing a critical role in blood pressure homoeostasis. Animal studies focussing on the protective effects of ACEi in lung tissue yielded promising results.
      • Molteni A.
      • Moulder J.E.
      • Cohen E.F.
      • et al.
      Control of radiation-induced pneumopathy and lung fibrosis by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker.
      One study
      • Moulder J.E.
      • Fish B.L.
      Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor captopril does not prevent acute gastrointestinal radiation damage in the rat.
      has addressed the efficacy of ACEi and gastrointestinal toxicity but showed no benefit. In lung patients, two clinical studies (10 years apart) have been conducted, one
      • Jenkins P.
      • Welsh A.
      Computed tomography appearance of early radiation injury to the lung: correlation with clinical and dosimetric factors.
      showed a clear benefit in 14% of the ACEi users (n = 146) in preventing radiation-induced lung injury in multivariate analysis, whilst the earlier study did not.
      • Wang L.W.
      • Fu X.L.
      • Clough R.
      • et al.
      Can angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors protect against symptomatic radiation pneumonitis?.
      With respect to gastrointestinal toxicity, five clinical studies
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      • Cozzarini C.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Da Pozzo L.
      • et al.
      Clinical factors predicting late severe urinary toxicity after postoperative radiotherapy for prostate carcinoma: a single-institute analysis of 742 patients.
      • Tucker S.
      • Dong L.
      • Bosch W.
      • et al.
      Late rectal toxicity on RTOG 94-06: analysis using a mixture Lyman model.
      • Vavassori V.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Rancanti T.
      • et al.
      Predictors for rectal and intestinal acute toxicities during prostate cancer high-dose 3-D-CRT: results of a prospective multicenter study.
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      conducted between 2004 and 2011 amounting to n = 4855 prostate cancer patients have included an analysis of the impact of presence of hypertension on normal tissue toxicity with three studies
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      reporting a protective effect. Only one of these studies – from our unit – included patients treated for non-urological cancers and this showed reduced toxicity in hypertensive patients irrespective of tumour site.
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      The most likely reason for the paradoxical finding of reduced toxicity in hypertensive patients comes from the use of anti-hypertensive medication. In the five studies
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      • Cozzarini C.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Da Pozzo L.
      • et al.
      Clinical factors predicting late severe urinary toxicity after postoperative radiotherapy for prostate carcinoma: a single-institute analysis of 742 patients.
      • Tucker S.
      • Dong L.
      • Bosch W.
      • et al.
      Late rectal toxicity on RTOG 94-06: analysis using a mixture Lyman model.
      • Vavassori V.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Rancanti T.
      • et al.
      Predictors for rectal and intestinal acute toxicities during prostate cancer high-dose 3-D-CRT: results of a prospective multicenter study.
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      referenced above, 22–46% of patients reported hypertension as a co-morbidity before starting radiotherapy although only one study
      • Vavassori V.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Rancanti T.
      • et al.
      Predictors for rectal and intestinal acute toxicities during prostate cancer high-dose 3-D-CRT: results of a prospective multicenter study.
      captured data on whether anti-hypertensive medication was being used. Favourable effects of the presence of hypertension in three studies
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      • Vavassori V.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Rancanti T.
      • et al.
      Predictors for rectal and intestinal acute toxicities during prostate cancer high-dose 3-D-CRT: results of a prospective multicenter study.
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      (n = 3103 patients) included improved urinary function (with a trend towards reduced risk of proctitis),
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      protection from diarrhoea
      • Vavassori V.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Rancanti T.
      • et al.
      Predictors for rectal and intestinal acute toxicities during prostate cancer high-dose 3-D-CRT: results of a prospective multicenter study.
      and reduced risk of grade 2 or greater gastrointestinal toxicity.
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      In the remaining two studies, one (n = 1010) found no effect on late rectal toxicity
      • Tucker S.
      • Dong L.
      • Bosch W.
      • et al.
      Late rectal toxicity on RTOG 94-06: analysis using a mixture Lyman model.
      and the other
      • Cozzarini C.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Da Pozzo L.
      • et al.
      Clinical factors predicting late severe urinary toxicity after postoperative radiotherapy for prostate carcinoma: a single-institute analysis of 742 patients.
      (n = 742) reported that the presence of hypertension was predictive for late grade 2 gastrointestinal toxicity.
      We aimed to determine whether statins and ACEi reduce normal tissue toxicity during therapeutic pelvic radiotherapy. Data were used from a mixed cohort of 308 pelvic radiotherapy patients in whom gastrointestinal toxicity outcomes had been previously captured prospectively
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      and the impact of individual statin and ACEi use on gastrointestinal symptoms was retrospectively analysed in the acute and late setting.

      2. Methods

      2.1 Study design

      This single-centre study was approved by the Research and Development and Ethics committees of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

      2.2 Eligibility criteria

      Patients with histologically proven gynaecological, urological or lower gastrointestinal malignancy due to receive radical (long-course) external beam radiotherapy were invited to participate in our original study.
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      Those for whom original signed consent forms were still available were included in this additional analysis.

      2.3 Treatments

      Radiotherapy prescriptions were delivered according to institution tumour-specific protocols as summarised in Table 1.
      Table 1Radiotherapy treatment parameters for pelvic sites at our institution.
      Tumour sitePlanning technique positioningTypical beam arrangementsTotal dose (Gy)Number of treatmentsDuration weeksFraction size (Gy)Brachytherapy
      Colorectal
      Colo-rectalConformal CT3 fieldPhase 1: 45255.5–61.8
      2 phase2 phasePhase 2: (pre-operative)3–5
      PronePost and opposed lateralsPhase 2: (post-operative)5–9
      AnalConformal CTPhase 1: 452561.8
      2 phasePhase 2: 95
      Prone
      Gynaecological
      Cervix
      EndometriumSimulated CT3 field45–55.825–3151.8Ir 192
      OvaryBony anatomy2 phaseHDR
      UterusSupineEBRT and brachytherapy8 Gy in x2 4 Gy insertions
      Vulva
      Urological
      ProstateConformal3 field703572
      CTAnterior and opposed laterals
      Supine
      Single phase
      6 field602043
      Lateralsor
      Anterior and posterior obliques74377.42
      IMRT10 field70357.02

      2.4 Toxicity scoring

      GI symptom scoring was carried out prospectively. Time-points were baseline (start of radiotherapy), once a week during radiotherapy and 1 year later. The 10 question Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire – Bowel (IBDQ-B) subset, which is embedded within the 32-question modified Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (IBDQ) was used. The IBDQ-B scores a maximum of 7 points per question (maximum score: 70 ‘asymptomatic’) and a minimum of 1 point per question (minimum score: 10 ‘most severe symptoms’) with scores between 10 and 70 reflecting gradations of severity.

      2.5 Toxicity data treatment

      Patients with start and end of radiotherapy IBDQ-B scores were included in an acute analysis and those with additional 1 year scores included in the late analysis. Duration of radiotherapy (weeks) was compared against the availability of completed questionnaires and missing IBDQ-B scores during treatment were replaced by the last available score. Cumulative acute symptom scores (as area under the curve for IBDQ-B, i.e. ‘IBDQ-B AUC’) and peak acute fall in score (worst score) were computed for each patient. IBDQ-B AUC was calculated by firstly subtracting scores from the maximum attainable: 70. The transformed scores were then summed as: [0.5 * baseline + sum of interim acute scores + 0.5 * final acute score]. Over a 6 week course of radiotherapy AUC scores could thus range from 0 to 360 with a lower AUC value indicating lesser toxicity.

      2.6 Statins and ACE inhibitor use

      A proforma was designed to capture data from the patients’ General Practitioners (GPs) on brand, dose and duration of statin and/or ACEi usage during radiotherapy treatment (dates pre-entered on the proforma by a study investigator) and at 1 year post treatment. Proformas were posted (surface mail) or faxed to each GP with an accompanying letter and copy of the published abstract
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      of the original study in which their patient participated. GPs who did not respond initially were contacted for a second final time.

      2.7 Statistical considerations and analysis

      This study was not powered to a specific endpoint. Means and standard deviations for non-normally distributed data were computed for change in IBDQ-B scores by study cohort and by statin and/or ACEi subgroups: ‘statin users’; ‘non-statin users’; ‘ACEi users’; ‘non-ACEi users’; ‘statin + ACEi users’; ‘non-statin + ACEi’ users. Worst IBDQ-B and IBDQ-B AUC scores were also computed. IBDQ-B AUC scores were transformed using a natural logarithm transformation to correct for non-normality of data. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was planned to explore the possible association between acute IBDQ-B AUC (previously shown to be a dose-independent predictor of late toxicity)
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      and the subgroup.

      3. Results

      3.1 Patient and data accrual

      A total of 308 patients (originally enrolled between January 2004 and October 2006) were eligible for inclusion in this extended analysis. Ten were excluded due to missing consent forms. Patients’ GPs were contacted between June 2010 and February 2011. Of 298 GPs contacted, 253 responded (84%). Two hundred and thirty-seven patients had evaluable acute toxicity and statin or ACEi data with 51% having no missing IBDQ-B scores. In the remaining patients, 70% (n = 116) were missing one score, 24% (n = 56) 2–4 scores and 6% (n = 14) ⩾5 scores. At 1 year, 164 patients had 1 year follow-up data (Fig. 1). Of the n = 73 not available for follow up at 1 year, 43 had died, 27 had moved away, 18 declined follow-up, 2 were too poorly to respond, 1 withdrew consent and in 3 patients no reason was recorded.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Fig. 1CONSORT style analysis of patient/data accrual.

      3.2 Patient characteristics

      Patient characteristics for the 308 patients with evaluable acute data are given in Table 2. For all subgroups ‘users’ were older than ‘non-users’ (73.5 versus 67 years; 72 versus 68 years; 72 versus 69 years in statin (p = 0.002), ACEi (p = 0.111), and statin + ACEi users respectively (p = 0.381) and in receipt of higher median radiotherapy dose (64 versus 55.8 Gy; 60 versus 55.8 Gy; 64 versus 55.8 Gy in statin (p = 0.014), ACEi (p = 0.315) and statin + ACEi (p = 0.276) users respectively. Males outnumber females in user groups by 3-fold (statin users), 2-fold (ACEi users) and 2-fold (statin + ACEi users). Males comprised 57% of the entire cohort of patients. At 1 year, the 164 patients with evaluable data comprised GI: 15% (n = 24), Gy: 34% (n = 56), U: 51% (n = 84) patients. The proportion of males had risen to 62% (male:female ratio = 101:63). Mean (sd) age: 68.7 (11.07) years and median (range) radiotherapy dose 55.8 Gy (20–74).
      Table 2Baseline characteristics.
      CharacteristicStatin useACE inhibitor useStatins + ACE inhibitor useTotal
      UsersNon-usersUsersNon-usersUsersNon-users
      n (%)38 (16)199 (84)39 (16.5)198 (83.5)18 (7.6)219 (92.4)237
      Gender – male:female29:9106:9325:14110:8812:6123:96135:102
      Age, years: median (range)73.5 (59–86)67 (29–88)72 (55–83)68 (29–88)72 (59–81)69 (29–88)69 (29–88)
      Dose, Gy: median (range)64 (36–74)55.8 (20–74)60 (45–74)55.8 (20–74)64 (45–70)55.8 (20–74)55.8 (20–74)
      Pelvic sites and use of concomitant chemotherapy: n (%)
      Gastrointestinal (GI)3 (8)40 (20)5 (13)38 (19)0 (0)43 (17)43 (18)
      Anus0202022
      Rectum33653403939
      Recto-sigmoid junction0202022
      Gynaecological (Gy)9 (24)78 (39)13 (33)74 (38)6 (33)81(37)87 (37)
      Cervix32822913031
      Endometrium637103353843
      Fallopian tube0101011
      Ovary0101011
      Uterus0404044
      Vulva/vagina0716077
      Urological (U)26 (68)81 (41)21 (54)86 (43)12 (67)95 (43)107 (45)
      Bladder281901010
      Prostate23731977118596
      Urethra/penis1010101
      Concomitant chemotherapy3 (4)70 (96)8 (11)65 (89)1 (1.5)72 (98.5)73 (31)
      Gastrointestinal ‘GI’23743503939 (90.5)
      Gynaecological ‘Gy’03142703131 (36)
      Urological ‘U’1203123 (3)

      3.3 Statins and ACEi use

      3.3.1 Acute setting

      Acutely (i.e. at baseline and during radiotherapy) n = 38 patients (16%) were taking statins: atorvastatin n = 18; simvastatin n = 14; pravastatin n = 5; rosuvastatin n = 1. Dose ranges were reported by GPs as: atorvastatin 10–80 mg od; simvastatin 20–40 mg od; pravastatin 20 mg od; rosuvastatin 10 mg od. A total of n = 39 patients (16.5%) were taking ACEi: ramipril n = 14; lisinopril n = 10; perindopril n = 8; fosinopril n = 4. Dose ranges were reported by GPs as: ramipril 2.5–10 mg od; lisinopril 2.5–20 mg od; perindopril 2–8 mg od; fosinopril 10–20 mg od. Acutely, n = 18 patients (7.6%) were taking statin + ACEi in the following combinations: atorvastatin + ACEi n = 10; simvastatin + ACEi n = 5; pravastatin + ACEi n = 3, the most common combination being atorvastatin + ramipril in n = 5 patients. At 1 year, n = 26 patients (16%) were still taking statins (missing: 12), n = 27 (16%) were still taking ACEi (missing: 12) and n = 14 (8.5%) patients remained on statins + ACEi agents (missing; 4).

      3.4 Gastrointestinal toxicity – acute setting

      3.4.1 Entire cohort

      Change in IBDQ-B scores acutely (n = 237) is given in Table 3 and depicted in Fig. 2. IBDQ-B scores fell by 6.9 points from mean (sd) 66.0 (7.5) at start of radiotherapy to 59.1 points (10.0) at end of radiotherapy (n = 4 missing at end-RT).
      Table 3IBDQ-B scores by cohort and sub-group.
      Mean IBDQ-B scores (confidence interval)
      SubgroupsStart of radiotherapy (n = 237)End of radiotherapy (n = 237)One year (n = 164)
      Statin users68.2 (66.8–69.5)63.4 61.1–65.765.2 (63.1–67.3)
      Non-statin users65.6 (64.5–66.7)58.3 (56.9–59.7)62.9 (61.1–64.6)
      ACEi users67.0 (65.0–69.062 (59.3–64.8)65.9 (63.9–67.8)
      Non-ACEi users65.8 (64.7–66.958.5 (57.1–60.062.7 (61.0–64.5)
      Statin + ACEi users69.1 (68.4 -69.7)64.2 (61.6–66.8)65.1 (62.2–68.1)
      Non-statin + ACEi users65.7 64.7–66.858.7 (57.3–60.1)63.1 (61.4–64.7)
      Entire cohort66.0 (65.0–67.0)59.1 (57.8–60.4)63.2 (61.7–64.8)

      3.4.2 Subgroups

      Mean (sd) changes in acute IBDQ-B scores by subgroups are given in Table 3 and depicted in Fig. 2. The mean changes in score in non-user subgroups between the start and end of radiotherapy were 7.3 points (non-statin users), 7.3 (non-ACEi users) and 7.0 (non-statin + ACEi users). In comparison, mean changes in score in user sub-groups were 4.8 points (statin users), 5.0 points (ACEi users) and 4.9 points (statin + ACEi users). Baseline IBDQ-B scores were higher in statin users compared to non-statin users by 2.6 points, in ACEi users (compared to non-users) by 1.2 points and in statin + ACEi users (compared to non-users) by 3.4 points.
      Table 4 shows the worst acute IBDQ-B score and IBDQ-B AUC by subgroup including the difference in score between users and non-users in each subgroup. User subgroups experienced less severe peaks in acute toxicity (worst IBDQ-B) than non-user sub-groups and reduced overall acute severity of toxicity (lesser IBDQ-B AUC scores). The difference in scores was greatest between statin + ACEi users compared to non-statin + ACEi users, with a difference of 7.4 points for worst acute IBDQ-B score and 30 for IBDQ-B AUC score.
      Table 4Worst IBDQ-B and IBDQ-B AUC scores.
      SubgroupWorst acute IBDQ-BDifference users versus non-usersAUC_IBDQ-BDifference users versus non-users
      Statin users60.75.3a38.816.9a
      Non-statin users55.455.7
      ACEi users58.83.0a42.912.1a
      Non-ACEi users55.855.0
      Statin + ACEi users63.17.3a25.330a
      Non statin + ACEi users55.855.3
      Key: aFavours users over non-users.
      Analysis of variance showed statin use to be significantly associated with acute IBDQ-B AUC (p = 0.04) after controlling for baseline scores whilst ACEi use was not (p = 0.20). Combined statin + ACEi use was more strongly associated with IBDQ-B AUC (p = 0.008) after correcting for baseline scores.

      3.4.3 Within subgroups

      Within subgroups (defined by individual agent) acute mean (sd) fall in IBDQ-B score (worsening toxicity) was least amongst pravastatin users, ranging from a fall of 6.22 (8.27) points for atorvastatin to 2.40 (4.51) for pravastatin users. Acute mean (sd) fall in IBDQ-B score in the ACEi users was least amongst perindopril users, ranging from a fall of 18.0 (6.93) for fosinopril to 0.1 (10.37) points for perindopril users. In the combined agent subgroup, acute mean (sd) fall in IBDQ-B score ranged from 5.8 (5.84) points for simvastatin + ACEi users to 3.3 (6.11) points for pravastatin + ACEi users.

      3.5 Gastrointestinal toxicity – 1 year

      At 1 year, mean (sd) IBDQ-B scores (n = 164) had fallen 2.8 points – Table 3. By subgroups, mean IBDQ-B scores in non-user groups had fallen by 2.7 points in non-statin users (n = 138), 3.1 points in non-ACEi users (n = 137) and 2.6 points in non-statin + ACEi users (n = 150). In user sub-groups scores had fallen 3.0 points in statin users (n = 26), 1.1 points in ACEi users (n = 27) and 4.0 points in statin + ACEi users (n = 14). Mean (sd) IBDQ-B scores at 1 year remained higher in all users than non-user subgroups – Table 3. Non-normality of data precluded further formal analysis.
      Within subgroups, mean (sd) fall in 1 year IBDQ-B scores was similar amongst statin users ranging from 3.5 (4.34) points for atorvastatin users to 4.1 (4.87) points for simvastatin users. The 1 rosuvastatin user increased their 1 year score by 1 point. Amongst ACEi users, mean (sd) fall in score ranged from 1.7 (3.51) points for fosinopril users to 9.6 (11.0) points for perindopril users. However, in enalopril and lisinopril users, scores had risen by mean (sd) 0.5 (3.54) and 3.0 (6.51) points respectively. Within the combined agent subgroup, acute mean (sd) fall in IBDQ-B scores was very similar: 3.0 (2.94) points for simvastatin + ACEi users, 4.0 (5.29) points for pravastatin + ACEi users and 4.0 (4.18) for atorvastatin + ACEi users.

      3.6 Survival outcomes

      A total of 43 patients died before their 1 year follow-up. Of these, 26 died of disease progression, (of whom n = 20 were non-users and n = 6 users) and 7 from non-cancer related causes. Cancer related treatment toxicity (i.e. chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy and/or surgery) significantly contributed to morbidity before death in the remaining 10 patients of whom n = 7 were non-users and n = 3 users.

      4. Discussion

      This study has demonstrated for the first time that the use of statin or statin + ACEi during pelvic radical radiotherapy significantly reduces gastrointestinal toxicity, assessed using a gastrointestinal scoring tool (IBDQ-B) that we have previously shown to be more sensitive than other commonly used tools in this setting
      • Khalid U.
      • McGough C.
      • Hackett C.
      • et al.
      A modified inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire and the Vaizey incontinence questionnaire are more sensitive measures of acute gastrointestinal toxicity during pelvic radiotherapy than RTOG grading.
      and a method of scoring (IBDQ-B AUC) that we have shown to be a more sensitive predictor than peak change in score of late emerging effects.
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      We conducted this investigation in a mixed pelvic cohort without stratification by pelvic site or disease stage and obtained data on medication use retrospectively. It was also possible that the number of men compared to women in each user group, and the type of radiotherapy they received may have influenced our findings. We were reluctant to perform additional unplanned statistical analyses in our data, however, an exploratory ANOVA revealed that both statin and statin + ACEi use remained significantly associated with IBDQ-B AUC (p < 0.001) after controlling for gender (data not shown) suggesting that our findings are indeed valid.
      A further criticism by those not familiar with the IBDQ-B scoring system used in this study could be that the changes in scores between users and non-users seem modest, however, changes in scores of >6 points have previously been shown to be clinically significant.
      • Hlavaty T.
      • Persoons P.
      • Vermeire S.
      • et al.
      Evaluation of short-term responsiveness and cutoff values of inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire in Crohn’s disease.
      Previous studies have lacked precise data on agent type, dose and duration of use.
      • Kollmeier M.A.
      • Katz M.S.
      • Mak K.
      • et al.
      Improved biochemical outcomes with statin use in patients with high-risk localised prostate cancer treated with radiotherapy.
      • Soto D.E.
      • Daignault S.
      • Sandler H.M.
      • et al.
      No effect of statins on biochemical outcomes after radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer.
      • Katz M.S.
      • Minsky B.D.
      • Saltz L.B.
      • et al.
      Association of statin use with a pathologic complete response to neoadjuvant chemoradiation for rectal cancer.
      • Tsai H.K.
      • Katz M.S.
      • Coen J.J.
      • et al.
      Association of statin use with improved local control in patients treated with selective bladder preservation for muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
      We were able to obtain this data from patient’s GPs. This data has enabled us to observe that pravastatin may be providing enhanced protection not only in comparison to other statins but also in combination with ACEi agents. Although the numbers of patients on these particular agents is very small (pravastatin: 5 and pravastatin + ACEi: 3), there is sound biological reasoning to suggest that this non-lipophilic statin may have an enhanced effect
      • Chan K.K.
      • Oza A.M.
      • Siu L.L.
      The statins as anti-cancer agents.
      as it evades first pass metabolism by the liver and has been shown to concentrate >300 times more than other (lipophilic) statins in peripheral tissues. It may also have localised effects in the region of the terminal ileum and distal small bowel being selectively taken-up by the sodium-independent bile acid transporter.
      • Chan K.K.
      • Oza A.M.
      • Siu L.L.
      The statins as anti-cancer agents.
      In many of the previous studies on the use of medication concomitant with radiotherapy, medication use has been largely assessed by a clinician on the basis of patient’s self-reported history or surmised from presence of the co-morbidity.
      • Barnett G.
      • De Meerleer G.
      • Gulliford S.
      • et al.
      The impact of clinical factors on the development of late rectal toxicity: results from the Medical Research Council RT01 Trial (ISRCTN 47772397).
      • Cozzarini C.
      • Fiorino C.
      • Da Pozzo L.
      • et al.
      Clinical factors predicting late severe urinary toxicity after postoperative radiotherapy for prostate carcinoma: a single-institute analysis of 742 patients.
      • Tucker S.
      • Dong L.
      • Bosch W.
      • et al.
      Late rectal toxicity on RTOG 94-06: analysis using a mixture Lyman model.
      • Liu M.
      • Pickles T.
      • Agranovich A.
      • et al.
      Impact of neoadjuvant ablation and other factors on late toxicity after external beam prostate radiotherapy.
      These extrapolations may lead to errors. In the previous study we reported,
      • Wedlake L.J.
      • Thomas K.
      • Lalji A.
      • et al.
      Predicting late effects of pelvic radiotherapy: is there a better approach?.
      35% of the patients in the current analysis (82/237) said they were on treatment for hypertension. However, information from the same patients’ GPs revealed that in fact n = 39 were on ACEi agents leaving 52% on alternative HT medication thus illustrating the need for precise data when drawing conclusions on the use of individual agents and effects.
      It could be argued that in this investigation, all user groups were less symptomatic on presentation than non-users and that this may have influenced outcomes. However, the significant association between IBDQ-B AUC and statin use and IBDQ-B AUC statin + ACEi use was ascertained using an analysis of variance which accounted for baseline values. The phenomena of statin users being in better health than their non-user counterparts has been noticed previously
      • D’Amico AV.
      Statin use and the risk of prostate specific antigen recurrence after radiation therapy with or without hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
      and emphasises the importance of collecting detailed baseline characteristics. It is possible that statin users have heightened health awareness and so present earlier in the disease cycle. As we have also reported in this analysis, statin users (despite being older) are prescribed higher median radiotherapy doses and thus may also benefit with improved survival and biochemical outcomes. On the other hand, both older age and increased dose are risk factors for increased toxicity. Prospective investigation stratified by disease stage and agent/dose with adequate follow-up will help to answer these observations.
      We conclude that both statin and ACEi agents (or a combination of these agents) may confer multiple advantages in the therapeutic pelvic radiotherapy setting. Adequately powered investigations with meticulous detail regarding medication use will help to unravel the precise effects of these potentially protective agents.

      Conflict of interest statement

      None declared.

      Acknowledgements

      We would like to thank all General Practitioners who responded to our request for information, without whose help this analysis would have been impossible.
      This work was undertaken in The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust who received a proportion of its funding from the NHS Executive; the views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS Executive. This work was supported by the Institute of Cancer Research, The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Cancer Research UK Section of Radiotherapy [CUK] Grant No. C46/A2131. We acknowledge NHS funding to the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

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