Statins May Benefit MS Patients

Study participants with MS shown to have less brain lesions after taking statins

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Statin drugs are normally used to treat high cholesterol. Now, research shows that they may also help multiple sclerosis (MS) patients manage their disease.

Researchers found that MS patients who were taking statin drugs had less brain lesions (damage to brain tissue) in the early stages of the disease. As brain lesions can be signs of future attacks of MS, this study's findings may help MS patients deal with their disease.

"Statin drugs can help treat MS."

The study follows work from Scott S. Zamvil, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at UCSF after his team's discovery that statins cause T cell immune modulation, which could prove beneficial to MS patients and others with autoimmune diseases (diseases in which the body's immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy cells).

Daniel Pelletier, MD, study author, associate professor of neurology and a member of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group at UCSF, said the study could prove meaningful for MS patients and lead to more effective treatments since new lesions are reliable indicators of future clinical attacks in the disease.

In Depth

Researchers evaluated MRIs (five scans over the course of one year) to follow the disease course in participants, 77 percent of whom were female and 93 percent of whom were Caucasian.

Participants in the 81-person study, which followed MS progression in patients following their first attack, received an 80 milligram dose of atorvastatin (Lipitor®). Over 12 months, 55 percent of patients taking the medicine did not develop new brain lesions compared to 28 percent in the control group who did not exhibit new lesions.

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Review Date: 
January 25, 2011
Last Updated:
April 12, 2011