Background: Statins are lipid-lowering drugs widely used in the world. They are effective and safe in the treatment and in the primary and secondary prevention of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. Besides they are known for their muscular side-effects. It has been suggested that they also have a toxic effect on the peripheral nervous system.
State of art: Case reports and retrospective studies emphasize the possibility that statins can induce peripheral nerves side-effects. A single prospective study contradicts this hypothesis. Statins are hydroxymethyl glutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCoA reductase) inhibitors, this action is responsible for the lipid-lowering effect but can also explain the nervous toxicity. Statins interfere with cholesterol synthesis that may alter myelin and nerve membrane function and they prevent mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme synthesis which may disturb neuron energy use.
Conclusions: It can be considered that statins have an insignificant toxicity on peripheral nerves. The relevance of their prescription must be however well evaluated and treated patients must be closely followed.