Statin may slow Alzheimer’s disease

Treatment with Atorvastatin ( Lipitor ), a cholesterol-lowering drug, may be of some clinical benefit on measures of cognitive and psychiatric symptoms in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.

Laboratory evidence of cholesterol-induced production of amyloid beta, along with epidemiological evidence, suggests that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may favorably influence the progression of the disease.

Researches in U.S. carried-out a small trial to determine if treatment with Atorvastatin affects the cognitive and/or behavioral decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.

D. Larry Sparks, of the Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, Arizona, and colleagues enrolled patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized one year trial.

Sixty-seven patients were randomized to receive either Atorvastatin or placebo; 63 patients were evaluated at the three month visit; 56 patients completed the 6-month visit; 48 patients completed the 9-month visit; and 46 completed the one-year study, 25 receiving Atorvastatin and 21 receiving placebo.

" We have found that daily administration of 80 mg of Atorvastatin significantly reduces circulating cholesterol levels and may have a positive effect on the progressive deterioration of cognitive function and behavior anticipated in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease," the authors write. " As a pilot proof-of-concept study, significant differences were not expected, but benefits identified tend to support the trial's rationale based on the hypothesis that excess brain cholesterol-promoting amyloid beta production and subsequently the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease come from the blood because of increased circulating levels."

" Atorvastatin treatment could be established as an effective therapy for Alzheimer disease if the current findings are substantiated by a much larger multicenter trial, “ the authors conclude.

Source: Archives of Neurology, 2005