BackgroundThere is recent evidence suggesting that rosiglitazone increases death from cardiovascular causes. We investigated the direct effect of this drug on atheroma using 3D carotid cardiovascular magnetic resonance.ResultsA randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was performed to evaluate the effect of rosiglitazone treatment on carotid atherosclerosis in subjects with type 2 diabetes and coexisting vascular disease or hypertension. The primary endpoint of the study was the change from baseline to 52 weeks of carotid arterial wall volume, reflecting plaque burden, as measured by carotid cardiovascular magnetic resonance. Rosiglitazone or placebo was allocated to 28 and 29 patients respectively. Patients were managed to have equivalent glycemic control over the study period, but in fact the rosiglitazone group lowered their HbA1c by 0.88% relative to placebo (P < 0.001). Most patients received a statin or fibrate as lipid control medication (rosiglitazone 78%, controls 83%). Data are presented as mean ± SD. At baseline, the carotid arterial wall volume in the placebo group was 1146 ± 550 mm3 and in the rosiglitazone group was 1354 ± 532 mm3. After 52 weeks, the respective volumes were 1134 ± 523 mm3 and 1348 ± 531 mm3. These changes (-12.1 mm3 and -5.7 mm3 in the placebo and rosiglitazone groups, respectively) were not statistically significant between groups (P = 0.57).ConclusionTreatment with rosiglitazone over 1 year had no effect on progression of carotid atheroma in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus compared to placebo.