Statins, drugs widely used to lower cholesterol in patients with heart disease, may also help prevent memory loss connected to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In findings presented at the 9th Annual International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia, the UAB team reported that mice genetically engineered to display Alzheimer’s disease characteristics demonstrated better memory skills after treatment with simvastatin (Zocor), a commonly used statin medication.
Alzheimer’s mice treated with simvastatin were better able to repeatedly navigate a maze than Alzheimer’s mice not treated with the drug.
“The Alzheimer’s mice originally had trouble remembering their way through the maze,” says Ling Li, DVM, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at UAB and lead researcher on the study. “The mice treated with simvastatin regained their ability to negotiate the maze.”
Additionally, the study found that normal mice in a control group who were treated with simvastatin demonstrated even better memory and recall skills in the maze. Li says that while more research is needed, these findings suggests that statins may produce beneficial effects on learning and memory in normal aging as well as in Alzheimer-type dementia.
Li presented her findings on July 21st at the conference, presented by the Alzheimer’s Association. Funding for the research came from the National Institute of Aging through UAB’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.