ST. PAUL, MN – A group of cholesterol-lowering drugs may also effectively interfere with the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). These drugs, known as statins, greatly reduce hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart disease, mainly by their cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-lowering properties. A study published in the October 8 issue of Neurology, the journal of he American Academy of Neurology, indicates that statins may also have therapeutic potential for a variety of immunity related disorders such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and graft-rejection in organ transplantation. Researchers from Austria and Germany investigated the impact of statins on a variety of immune responses in MS, comparing the effects with those induced by interferon-beta, an established disease-modifying therapy in MS. Using blood drawn from 74 MS patients and 25 healthy donors, tests were performed in vitro with lovastatin, simvastatin, mevastatin, and interferon alone, and statins plus interferon. "Our study shows that statins modify several molecules of the immune system involved in the disease progression of MS, independent of their use with interferon," notes study author Juan José Archelos, MD, of Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria. "The potent anti-inflammatory effects of statins are remarkable, and even more effective when combined with interferon-beta."
This study indicates that these well-established therapeutic agents may be a useful stand-alone or add-on therapy to interferon-beta, with the added advantage of an oral versus injectible delivery. While study results are encouraging, study authors caution that much more research is necessary to establish the precise mechanisms by which statins induce these anti-inflammatory effects.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its website at http://www.aan.com.
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