Statins are a class of pharmaceuticals known for effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and stabilizing the cardiovascular system lowering the risk for disease. New research suggests a particular statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by almost 50 percent.

This is the first study to suggest that statins might reduce the incidence of Parkinson’s disease. These findings, will be published in the July online open access journal BioMed Central (BMC) Medicine.

Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is one of the major public health threats that individuals face as they age. Statins are a class of medications that reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase.

Boston University researchers examined data from the Decision Support System database of the United States Veterans Affairs Medical System, a database of medical centers throughout the United States which contains diagnostic, pharmaceutical and demographic information on approximately 4.5 millions people.

Using three different models for analysis, the researchers examined the effects of three different statins (atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin) and found that simvastatin showed a strong reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in each of the models. The data also showed the same statin was associated with a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers speculate that the selective benefit observed with simvastatin might be due to the combination of high potency and the ability to enter the brain.

“The strength of reduction of incidence of dementia with simvastatin is striking,” said lead author Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at BUSM.

According to the researchers, multiple past studies have investigated whether statin treatment might be of benefit for people with dementia or at risk for dementia, however, these studies have produced conflicting results.

“The strength of this study is that it examines the issue with a huge amount of statistical power and uses existing data to look prospectively at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” added Wolozin.

Source: Boston University