Latest Research News

Data from 57,669 older Taiwanese patients (65+) with no dementia at the beginning of the 5-year study has found that the risk of developing dementia was inversely related to statin dosage. Those on the highest doses of statins were three times less likely to develop dementia. The potency of the statins was also a factor, with high potency statins such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin giving the most benefit.

Nearly 10% developed dementia during the study.

“Statin use and the incidence of dementia in the elderly: a nation-wide data survey” was presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2013 Congress in Amsterdam.

Older news items (pre-2010) brought over from the old website

Statins may protect against memory loss

The question of whether statins protect against dementia and memory loss bounces back and forth. In the latest study — lasting 5 years and involving 1674 older adults who were dementia-free at the start of the study but were considered high risk — it was found that those who took statins (27%) were about half as likely to develop dementia as those who didn’t take them. Statins lowered the risk of dementia in all participants, but the statins had more of an impact on the group at high risk due to metabolic syndrome.

Cramer, C. et al. 2008. Use of statins and incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment without dementia in a cohort study. Neurology, 71, 344-350.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may not prevent Alzheimer's disease

Research on the protective benefit or otherwise of taking statins has been contradictory to date. Now new results from the long-running Religious Orders Study has come down on the side of no benefit. The study found no relation between statin use and Alzheimer’s, and no association between taking statins and a slower cognitive decline among older people.

Arvanitakis, Z., Schneider, J.A., Wilson, R.S., Bienias, J.L., Kelly, J.F., Evans, D.A. & Bennett, D.A. 2008. Statins, incident Alzheimer disease, change in cognitive function, and neuropathology. Neurology, first published on January 16, 2008 as doi: doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000288181.00826.63

Statin treatment improves spatial memory in Alzheimer's mice

Treatment with the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Simvastatin significantly improved spatial in mice genetically bred to have an Alzheimer’s-like disease. The benefits were more pronounced in males. Levels of nNOS (neuronal nitric oxide synthase) levels were significantly higher in the hippocampus and cortex of statin treated groups as compared to similar mice that did not receive statin. nNOS is responsible for the release of nitric oxide, a substance that causes dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, thus increasing blood flow.

The findings were presented April 30 at Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, DC.

Cholesterol treatment, including statins, may slow Alzheimer's disease progression

A study following 342 Alzheimer’s patients attending a memory clinic for almost three years has found that the disease progressed significantly more slowly in patients given cholesterol lowering drugs. A larger trial will be needed to confirm the findings.

Masse, I., Bordet, R., Deplanque, D., Al Khedr, A., Richard, F., Libersa, C. & Pasquier, F. 2005. Lipid lowering agents are associated with a slower cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 76, 1624-1629.

No clear-cut answers on statins as therapy for Alzheimer's disease

A study with genetically engineered mice found that those treated with simvastatin regained their ability to navigate mazes and that the drug improved performance even for the non-engineered mice in the control group.
Another study found that four different statins reduced, to varying extent, brain cells' production of a protein fragment thought to play a key role in Alzheimer's, with fluvastatin (Lescol, Novartis) being the most effective.
However, a review of all existing randomized controlled trials of statins in people without dementia (comprising over 30,000 participants) found no evidence yet that any statin protects against cognitive decline. In a second, small study of elderly people at risk for dementia, rates of brain tissue shrinkage, measured using a special MRI scan, were no different between statin users and nonusers.
New results from three, long-running population studies that assess the possible impact of statins on preventing Alzheimer's suggest that the benefit of statins in warding off dementia largely disappears if patients are followed for several years. There are a number of large-scale clinical trials underway to try and resolve this issue.

Presented at the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders (ICAD), July 17-22, 2004, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Ling Li – Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Statins Beyond Alzheimer's Disease (O4-05-01, Wed., 7/21, 3-5 pm)
Richard Parsons – Statins Reduce Beta-amyloid Production but Increase its Release From the Cell (P4-362, Wed., 7/21, 12:30 pm)
Kina Hoglund – The Effect of Simvastatin Treatment on the Processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease (P4-386, Wed., 7/21, 12:30 pm)
P. Murali Doraiswamy – Statin Use and Hippocampal Volume in Subjects at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease (O1-02-08, Sun., 7/18, 4-6 pm)
John Breitner – Can statins prevent AD, or are they just prescribed less often to those with cognitive disorders? (S1-03-01, Sun., 7/18, 1:45 pm)

Cholesterol-lowering drugs shown to decrease predictor of Alzheimer's

In a recent study, cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins lowered brain cholesterol levels in Alzheimer’s patients by 21.4%. Brain cholesterol is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques. The findings from this research provide information about the safety and efficacy of a reasonable dose of a statin on the reduction of brain cholesterol, and pave the way for research to find out what effect statins have on the cognitive impairment of people with Alzheimer’s.

Vega, G.L., Weiner, M.F., Lipton, A.M., von Bergmann, K., Lütjohann, D., Moore, C. & Svetlik, D. 2003. Reduction in Levels of 24S-Hydroxycholesterol by Statin Treatment in Patients With Alzheimer Disease. Archives of Neurology, 60, 510-515.

Statins may prevent damage by Alzheimer's disease protein

Recently, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease has been shown to be reduced in people treated with statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs). A new study has found that statins appear to block the vasoconstrictive effects of the A-beta protein (involved in Alzheimer's disease). It is perhaps the anti-inflammatory properties of these drugs (rather than their role in lowering cholesterol) that helps protect against dementia.

Paris, D., Townsend, K.P., Humphrey, J., Obregon, D.F., Yokota, K. & Mullan, M. 2002. Statins inhibit Ab-neurotoxicity in vitro and Ab-induced vasoconstriction and inflammation in rat aortae. Atherosclerosis, 161(2), 293-299.