Through bound apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) activates endothelial nitric oxide synthase, inducing vasodilation. Because patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) have low apoA-I and endothelial dysfunction, we conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to test whether extended-release niacin (niacin-ER) increases apoA-I-containing HDL-C and improves vascular function in SCD. Twenty-seven patients with SCD with levels of HDL-C <39 mg/dl or apoA-I <99 mg/dl were randomized to 12 weeks of niacin-ER, increased in 500-mg increments to a maximum of 1,500 mg/day, or placebo. The primary outcome was the absolute change in HDL-C level after 12 weeks, with endothelial function assessed before and at the end of treatment. Niacin-ER-treated patients trended to greater increase in HDL-C level compared with placebo treatment at 12 weeks (5.1 ± 7.7 vs 0.9 ± 3.8 mg/dl, 1-tailed p = 0.07), associated with significantly greater improvements in the ratios of low-density lipoprotein to HDL-C levels (1.24 vs 1.95, p = 0.003) and apolipoprotein B to apoA-I levels (0.46 vs 0.58, p = 0.03) compared with placebo-treated patients. No improvements were detected in 3 independent vascular physiology assays of endothelial function. Thus, the relatively small changes in HDL-C levels achieved by the dose of niacin-ER used in our study are not associated with improved vascular function in patients with SCD with initially low levels of apoA-I or HDL-C.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine