Statins: multiple neuroprotective mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases

Exp Neurol. 2011 Jul;230(1):27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2010.04.006. Epub 2010 Apr 18.


Statins have been widely used for the treatment of a variety of conditions beyond their original role in lowering cholesterol. Since statins have relatively few side effects, they have been recognized as useful medicine to ameliorate neurodegenerative disorders. Current studies on the applications of statins have demonstrated their neuroprotective and clinical significance among neurodegenerative diseases like cerebral ischemic stroke, vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, though the neuroprotective mechanisms are not completely understood. This review will discuss recent development in the use of statins in slowing down the progression of these neurodegenerative diseases. It will summarize the potential mechanisms for statin-mediated neuroprotective effects in neurodegenerative diseases. In detail, this review discuss the roles of statins in lowering cholesterol, reducing reactive oxygen species, impairing β-amyloid production and serum apolipoprotein E levels, enhancing the levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and cerebral blood flow, and modulating cognitive related receptors and matrix metalloproteases. Finally, different alterations of various receptors in brain regions following statin treatment and their correlations with cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson's disease will also be reviewed, as well as the potential for therapy in ameliorating the progression of Parkinson's disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Interaction between repair, disease, & inflammation."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Cholesterol
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III