Interim Results of The EVAPORATE Trial Indicate No Change in Low Attenuation Plaque Volume But A Reduction in Total Plaque Volume Following Treatment with Icosapent Ethyl

Sahar Memar Montazerin, MD
By Sahar Memar Montazerin, MD on

The interim results of EVAPORATE trial, a study on the effect of Icosapent Ethyl on coronary plaque progression in statin-treated patients with elevated Triglyceride (TG) level (200-499mg/dl), were presented by Dr. Matthew Budoff at the American Heart Association 2019 meeting. Dr. Budoff and his team found that in patients with coronary atherosclerosis treated with statins, the addition of Icosapent Ethyl​ (Vascepa) was not associated with a change in low attenuation plaque volume but was associated with a decrease in total plaque volume. However, these are preliminary findings and the trial is set for completion at 18 months.

Icosapent Ethyl, a high‐purity eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) derivative, has been approved as an adjunct to diet for the reduction of TG levels in adults with elevated TG levels. Its utility has been associated with an increase in serum EPA levels, a lower serum TG level as well as a decrease in inflammatory markers. A prior trial investigated the effect of long-term eicosapentaenoic acid (1.8 g/d) on more than 18000 statin-treated patients, in Japan, showed a significant reduction (19%) in the relative risk of major coronary events.

In the EVAPORATE trial, statin-treated patients with coronary atherosclerosis (defined by narrowing≥20% in 1 coronary artery by either invasive angiography or multidetector computed tomography angiography (MDCTA)) and elevated serum TG levels (135-499mg/dl) were enrolled. Exclusion criteria included severe heart failure, hypersensitivity to contrast or fish and renal insufficiency. The primary endpoint of the study was progression rates of low attenuation coronary plaques as measured by MDCTA. The secondary endpoints were the quantitative changes in plaque morphology, inflammatory markers and the relationship between plaque vulnerability and these changes.

A total of 80 individuals participated in the study (40 randomized to receive Icosapent Ethyl and 40 to receive the placebo). Participants were evaluated at baseline, 3 and 9 months of the study. At baseline, each participant underwent a cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) to evaluate plaque morphology and volume as well as its composition. At 9 months, compared to placebo, Icosapent Ethyl slowed low attenuation coronary plaque progression by 21% (p=0.469). Although the primary outcome was statistically insignificant, the study continues until 18 months. Secondary outcomes of the study were promising, including a reduction in total non-calcified plaque volume by 19% (p = 0.01) and a 42% (p <0.0004) reduction in total plaque volume.

In an interview with Dr. C. Michael Gibson, Dr. Budoff discussed the primary findings of the trial. He noted that the increase in serum EPA levels significantly increased in those receiving Icosapent Ethyl and this increase was associated with a coronary plaque regression as well as an anti-inflammatory effect.

This study limited by some points. First, the follow-up duration was shorter than prior studies. Second, the primary endpoint was not statistically significant at the interim time point. The ultimate result of this trial may further define the potential clinical benefits of Icosapent Ethyl on atherosclerotic disorders.

Click here to view the study slides.

Click here to listen to Dr. Budoff and Dr. Gibson discuss the findings of the study.

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