Itraconazole: Its possible role in inhibiting angiogenesis in Rheumatoid Arthritis
Medical Hypotheses, 06/15/2012
Sheikh A et al. – The control group receives the standard disease–modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy plus placebo, while the case group receives itraconazole in addition to DMARD therapy. Serum and synovial vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels, in both the control group and the case group, are compared and their correlation with the symptoms is judged. If the VEGF levels are lower and/or the symptoms are less severe in the case group, the hypothesis will be confirmed. Multi–institutional efforts are needed to confirm this hypothesis, as it is relatively new and trial data is limited.Methods
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disorder involving mainly synovial joints. It can progress to a severely debilitating form with pulmonary, renal and cardiovascular involvement.
- Currently, disease–modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) remain the gold standard pharmacological therapy for RA (along with nonsteroidal anti–inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids).
- DMARDs are more or less ineffective in the late phase of the disease and adverse effects often limit their use.
- Studies show that serum levels of VEGF remain elevated throughout the course of RA.
- In experimental models, the administration of pro–angiogenic cytokines, such as VEGF or FGF, has been shown to increase the severity of the disease.
- Therefore, anti–angiogenic drugs such as bevacizumab (which is already being used as an anti–tumor agent) may play a significant role in longstanding RA.
- However, adverse effects such as hypertension, gastro–intestinal perforation and the high cost of bevacizumab are major concerns.
- A recent study suggests that itraconazole, an antifungal drug, has a role in selectively inhibiting angiogenesis and growth of tumor in non–small cell lung cancer.
- Hence, this drug may be beneficial in the treatment of RA, especially in the later phase when other modalities have failed, or as an adjuvant.
- To test the hypothesis, the authors propose a randomized, double–blinded trial in patients with longstanding RA.