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MARS - Monitored Atherosclerosis Regression Study

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institute on Aging (NIA) Identifier:
First received: June 30, 2005
Last updated: December 9, 2009
Last verified: June 2005
The purpose of this study is to determine whether significant alterations in serum lipoproteins as provided by the drug lovastatin can substantially reduce atherosclerosis progression or even induce regression.

Condition Intervention Phase
Coronary Artery Disease
Drug: lovastatin
Phase 2
Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Angiographic Study to Evaluate the Effect of Lovastatin on the Progression Rate of Atherosclerosis in the Coronary Arteries of Patients With Coronary Heart Disease

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institute on Aging (NIA):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • the average (per-patient) change from baseline in percent diameter stenosis in all lesions that showed 20% diameter stenosis at baseline or at follow-up as evaluated by quantitative coronary angiography

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • average (per-patient) change in minimum lumen diameter assessed by quantitative angiography
  • the global change score assessed by a human panel
  • the proportion of patients with progression or regression of disease assessed by quantitative coronary angiography

Estimated Enrollment: 270
Study Start Date: June 1985
Study Completion Date: February 1992
Primary Completion Date: February 1992 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Two conceptual advances occurring in the 1980's made it possible to test the hypothesis that significant alterations in serum lipoproteins can substantially reduce atherosclerosis progression or even induce regression. The first advance was in the development of arteriograms used in characterizing atherosclerosis, greatly reducing the number of patients required for the evaluation of an intervention designed to prevent coronary atherosclerosis progression. The second advance was the development of lovastatin that provides a lipid-lowering alternative much easier to tolerate than the niacin/colestipol combination previously used, and has been shown to be comparably effective for LDL reduction in patients with a family history of high cholesterol.

A total of 270 high-risk coronary artery disease patients, not eligible for coronary artery bypass surgery, were recruited for the study. All patients received angiograms and were randomly assigned to either the lovastatin or placebo groups stratified by three baseline factors: sex, smoking status, and plasma cholesterol levels.

Patients initially received lovastatin 40mg twice a day or a matching placebo. Those patients receiving lovastatin whose total plasma cholesterol level was less than 110mg/dL at one visit or 120 mg/dL on two successive visits had their dosage halved, and were maintained on the optimal dosage for the remainder of the study. Coronary angiography was performed prior to screening and at month 24 (visit 18). Angiographic assessment of both femoral arteries was also performed at baseline and at month 24. Noninvasive ultrasound imaging of the carotid arteries (including carotid intima-media thickness) was performed every 6 months. Patients reported to the clinic monthly for 12 months, and at two-month intervals thereafter. Plasma lipids, routine laboratory safety and physical examinations were also performed.


Ages Eligible for Study:   21 Years to 67 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Angiography within 17 weeks of randomization showing patient is at high risk for coronary artery disease but not a candidate for coronary artery graft surgery
  • Men and women ages 21 through 67 years
  • Mean plasma cholesterol levels from the first two screening visits in the range of 190 to 270 mg/dL
  • Smokers are admitted, but encouraged to stop smoking tobacco

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Premenopausal women unless surgically sterilized
  • Hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, liver dysfunction, renal insufficiency, congestive heart failure, major arrhythmia, left ventricular conduction defects
  • Physical impairment that may interfere with participation
  • Life threatening disease with high likelihood of disability or death during the trial period
  • Use of hydralazine, guanethidine, lipid-lowering drugs, estrogens, steroids, amphetamines, antibiotics, theophylline, acetaminophen (average daily use greater than ten grains), other drugs as determined by the principle investigator
  • Vitamins A or D in doses greater than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Nutritional supplements high in cholesterol content
  • Chelation therapy
  • Psychosocial situations which make completion of the study unlikely
  • Hypersensitivity to any component of the study medication
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00116870

United States, California
Atherosclerosis Research Unit, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine
Los Angeles, California, United States, 90033
Sponsors and Collaborators
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
Principal Investigator: Howard N. Hodis, MD University of Southern California, Atherosclerosis Research Unit, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine
  More Information Identifier: NCT00116870     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: AG0027
Study First Received: June 30, 2005
Last Updated: December 9, 2009

Keywords provided by National Institute on Aging (NIA):
familial hypercholesterolemia

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Coronary Artery Disease
Myocardial Ischemia
Coronary Disease
Heart Diseases
Cardiovascular Diseases
Arterial Occlusive Diseases
Vascular Diseases
L 647318
Anticholesteremic Agents
Hypolipidemic Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Lipid Regulating Agents
Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
Enzyme Inhibitors processed this record on April 24, 2017