In the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) mouse model, lovastatin, used clinically for hypercholesterolemia, improves cognitive dysfunction. While such impairment has been studied in NF1, the neural substrates remain unclear. The aim of this imaging add-on to a Phase 1 open-label trial was to examine the effect of lovastatin on Default Network (DN) resting state functional connectivity (RSFC). Seven children with NF1 (aged 11.9 ± 2.2; 1 female) were treated with lovastatin once daily for 12 weeks. A 7-min 3-T echo-planar-imaging scan was collected one day before beginning treatment (off-drug) and the last day of treatment (on-drug) while performing a flanker task. After regressing-out task-associated variance, we used the residual time series as "continuous resting-state data" for RSFC analyses using 11 DN regions of interest. For qualitative comparisons, we included a group of 19 typically developing children (TDC) collected elsewhere. In the on-drug condition, lovastatin increased long-range positive RSFC within DN core regions (i.e., anterior medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex, PCC). In addition, lovastatin produced less diffuse local RSFC in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and PCC. The pattern of RSFC observed in the NF1 participants when on-drug closely resembled the RSFC patterns exhibited by the TDC. Lovastatin administration in this open trial regulated anterior-posterior long-range and local RSFC within the DN. These preliminary results are consistent with a role for lovastatin in normalization of developmental processes and with apparent benefits in a mouse NF1 model.
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