Study finds link between commonly prescribed statin and memory impairment

September 25, 2013
Study finds link between commonly prescribed statin and memory impairment

New research that 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 has found that one of the drugs tested caused memory impairment in rats.

Between 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 PLOS ONE, tested pravastatin and atorvostatin (two commonly prescribed statins) in rat learning and memory models. The findings show that while no adverse cognitive effects were observed in rat performance for simple learning and for atorvostatin, pravastatin impaired their performance.

Rats were treated daily with pravastatin (brand name - Pravachol) or atorvostatin (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. On the 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).

The 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. While no effects were observed for atorvostatin in either task.

The results suggest that chronic treatment with pravastatin impairs working and 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.

Neil Marrion, Professor of Neuroscience at Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences and 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."

Explore further: Statin use is linked to increased risk of developing diabetes, warn researchers

More information: Stuart, S. et al. Chronic Pravastatin but Not Atorvastatin Treatment Impairs Cognitive Function in Two Rodent Models of Learning and Memory, PLOS ONE. dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075467

Related Stories

Statin use is linked to increased risk of developing diabetes, warn researchers

May 23, 2013
Treatment with high potency statins (especially atorvastatin and simvastatin) may increase the risk of developing diabetes, suggests a paper published today in BMJ.

High dose statins prevent dementia

September 1, 2013
High doses of statins prevent dementia in older people, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr. Tin-Tse Lin from Taiwan. The study of nearly 58,000 patients found that high potency statins had the ...

FDA adds new safety information to statin drugs

February 28, 2012
(AP) -- Federal health officials are adding new safety warnings about risks of memory loss and elevated blood sugar to statins, a widely prescribed group of cholesterol-lowering medications.

Co-Q10 deficiency may relate to concern with statin drugs, higher risk of diabetes

April 10, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A laboratory study has shown for the first time that coenzyme Q10 offsets the cellular changes that are linked to a side-effect of some statin drugs - an increased risk of adult-onset diabetes.

Statin use linked to few side effects

July 9, 2013
the popular class of cholesterol-lowering drugs used widely to prevent recurrent heart disease or stroke as well as risk for having a first cardiac or stroke event—appear to cause few side effects, according to new research ...

Most statin-intolerant patients can eventually tolerate statins

September 9, 2013
Most patients who report statin intolerance, including muscle aches and other side effects from the cholesterol-lowering drugs, can actually tolerate drugs from this class on subsequent trials, according to research from ...

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dr k ramakrishnan
not rated yet Sep 25, 2013
Adverse effects of statins. 1.fibromyalgia. 2.precipitates hyperglycaemia.3.incidence of cataract is more. 4. decreased exercise perfomance. 5.and now cognitive decline. 6.most important , withdrawal of statin will have more seious consecuances than those who are not taking statin .

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.