Statin therapy for Alzheimer's disease: will it work?

J Mol Neurosci. Aug-Oct 2002;19(1-2):155-61. doi: 10.1007/s12031-002-0026-2.


Disease-modifying therapies are being developed for Alzheimer's disease (AD). These are expected to slow the clinical progression of the disease or delay its onset. Cerebral accumulation of amyloid beta (A beta) peptides is an early and perhaps necessary event for establishing AD pathology. Consequently therapies aimed at attenuating brain amyloidosis are expected to be disease modifying. Based on the epidemiological evidence pointing to a link between cholesterol metabolism and AD and the numerous laboratory studies implicating cholesterol in the process of A beta production and accumulation, it is now believed that cholesterol-lowering therapies will be of value as disease modifying agents. Several epidemiological studies revealed that statin use for the treatment of coronary arterial disease is associated with a decreased prevalence or a decreased risk of developing AD. These observations require both preclinical and clinical validation. The former involves testing statins in one or more animal models of AD in order to establish which disease features are affected by statin treatment, the relative efficacy with which different statins modify these features and the mechanism(s) by which statins affect AD phenotypes. The latter requires prospective, randomized, placebo controlled trials to evaluate the effect of statin treatment on cognitive and AD biomarker outcomes. We have initiated a study aimed at determining the effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor), a statin with the largest US market share, on brain A beta deposition in the PSAPP transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's amyloidosis. Our results indicate that Lipitor treatment markedly attenuates A beta deposition in this animal model.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / drug effects
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atorvastatin
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Heptanoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Heptanoic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology*
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Pyrroles
  • Cholesterol
  • Atorvastatin