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Statins and the Brain: More than Lipid Lowering Agents?

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 1 ]


Anna Fracassi , Martina Marangoni, Pamela Rosso, Valentina Pallottini, Marco Fioramonti, Silvia Siteni and Marco Segatto*   Pages 59 - 83 ( 25 )


Background: Statins represent a class of medications widely prescribed to efficiently treat dyslipidemia. These drugs inhibit 3-βhydroxy 3β-methylglutaryl Coenzyme A reductase (HMGR), the rate-limiting enzyme of mevalonate (MVA) pathway. Besides cholesterol, MVA pathway leads to the production of several other compounds, which are essential in the regulation of a plethora of biological activities, including in the central nervous system. For these reasons, statins are able to induce pleiotropic actions, and acquire increased interest as potential and novel modulators in brain processes, especially during pathological conditions.

Objective: The purpose of this review is to summarize and examine the current knowledge about pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of statins in the brain. In addition, effects of statin on brain diseases are discussed providing the most up-to-date information.

Methods: Relevant scientific information was identified from PubMed database using the following keywords: statins and brain, central nervous system, neurological diseases, neurodegeneration, brain tumors, mood, stroke.

Results: 315 scientific articles were selected and analyzed for the writing of this review article. Several papers highlighted that statin treatment is effective in preventing or ameliorating the symptomatology of a number of brain pathologies. However, other studies failed to demonstrate a neuroprotective effect.

Conclusion: Even though considerable research studies suggest pivotal functional outcomes induced by statin therapy, additional investigation is required to better determine the pharmacological effectiveness of statins in the brain, and support their clinical use in the management of different neuropathologies.


Statins, brain, neurodegeneration, neurological disorders, mood, brain tumors.


Department of Science, University of Rome "Roma Tre", Medical Genetics Unit, University Hospital of Rome "Tor Vergata", Department of Science, University of Rome "Roma Tre", Department of Science, University of Rome "Roma Tre", Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), IRIBHM, Bruxelles, Department of Science, University of Rome "Roma Tre", Department of Sense Organs, Sapienza University of Rome

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