Statins May Slow MS Progression

A recent study shows that cholesterol lowering statin drugs may actually help slow the progression of multiple sclerosis. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found a lower incidence of new brain lesions in patients with MS who took cholesterol lowering drugs during the early stages of the disease as compared to a placebo.

The study involved participants taking an 80 mg daily dose of atorvastatin, which is marketed as Lipitor. The study initially was designed to evaluate MS progression after patients experienced their first attack of the said disease. Although the study was considered small with only 81 participants and its primary purpose not being met, the results provided significant insights on this puzzling disease and its potential association with statins. Over the 12-month course of the study, 55.3 percent of the participants who were given statins did not develop new brain lesions compared to 27.6 percent from the group who were given a placebo.

The study was a phase II trial and a multi-center, randomized placebo controlled follow up to a landmark study by Scott S. Zamvil, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at UCSF that first observed statins to cause T cell immune modulation that could be beneficial to MS and other autoimmune diseases. The follow up study was co-led by Zamvil and Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at the UCSF MS Center. The study findings were presented during the annual American Academy of Neurology scientific meeting in Toronto.

Source: University of California – San Francisco. "Statins May Slow Progression of Multiple Sclerosis, New Study Suggests." ScienceDaily 19 April 2010. 20 April 2010