One Statin Caused Memory Loss in Study, Another Did Not: Why the
effect of Lipitor certainly suggests that some types of statin may be
more likely to cause cognitive impairment than others
Sept. 25, 2013 - New research
from the United Kingdom looked at whether two commonly prescribed statin
medicines, used to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or‘bad cholesterol’ levels in the blood, can adversely
affect cognitive function. The study found that Pravachol caused memory
impairment in rats, while Lipitor did not.
six and seven million people
in the UK take statins daily and the findings follow
anecdotal evidence of people reporting that they feel that their newly
prescribed statin is affecting their memory. Last year, the
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
insisted that all manufacturers list in their side effects that statins
might affect cognitive function.
The study, led by
scientists at the University of Bristol and published in the journal
tested two commonly prescribed statins - pravastatin and
atorvostatin(atorvastatin in U.S.) - in rat learning and memory models.
The findings show that while no adverse cognitive effects were observed
in rat performance for simple learning and memory tasks for atorvostatin,
pravastatin impaired their performance.
treated daily with pravastatin (brand name - Pravachol) or atorvastatin
(brand name - Lipitor) for 18 days. The rodents were tested in a simple
learning task before, during and after treatment, where they had to
learn where to find a food reward.
last day of treatment and following one week withdrawal, the rats were
also tested in a task which measures their ability to recognise a
previously encountered object (recognition memory).
study’s findings showed that pravastatin tended to impair learning over
the last few days of treatment although this effect was fully reversed
once treatment ceased. However, in the novel object discrimination task,
pravastatin impaired object recognition memory. No effects were
observed for atorvostatin in either task.
results suggest that chronic treatment with pravastatin impairs working
and recognition memory in rodents. The reversibility of the effects on
stopping treatment is similar to what has been observed in patients, but
the lack of effect of atorvostatin suggests that some types of statin
may be more likely to cause cognitive impairment than others.
Professor of Neuroscience at Bristol’s
School of Physiology and
Pharmacology in the
Faculty of Medical and Veterinary
the study’s lead author, said: “This
finding is novel and likely reflects both the anecdotal reports and FDA
advice. What is most interesting is that it is not a feature of all
statins. However, in order to better understand the relationship between
statin treatment and cognitive function, further studies are needed.”
‘Chronic Pravastatin but Not Atorvastatin Treatment Impairs Cognitive
Function in Two Rodent Models of Learning and Memory’ by Stuart SA,
Robertson JD, Marrion NV, Robinson ESJ is published in PLOS ONE :
are statins used for?
are medicines that are prescribed to help protect healthy, but
high-risk, people from heart disease and to prevent repeated problems in
people who have already had a heart attack, a stroke or peripheral
in our body make a fatty substance called cholesterol. The liver makes
the cholesterol mostly from the saturated fats in the food we eat.
Cholesterol plays a vital role in how every cell works, throughout the
body, and the body uses cholesterol to make other vital chemicals.
However, having too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk
of getting heart and circulatory disease. Statins reduce the amount of
cholesterol produced by cells all over our body. This forces them to get
their supply by removing it from the bloodstream. So this lowers the
blood cholesterol level.
Statin Linked to Memory Impairment, Study in Rats Suggestsoked at
whether two commonly prescribed statin medicines, used to lower
low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad cholesterol' levels in the blood,
can adversely affect cognitive function has found that one of the drugs
tested caused memory impairment in rats.
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