Evidence and mechanisms for statin-induced cognitive decline

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2019 Apr 27:1-10. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2019.1606711. Online ahead of print.


Statin drugs have become the most highly prescribed drugs for cardiovascular disease. However, there is disagreement as to the existence of adverse effects of statin administration on cognitive function. Therefore, it is important to better understand the effects of statins on cognition and possible mechanisms of these effects. Areas covered: We analyzed relevant studies of the relationship between cognitive performance and statin and usage. We included articles published between 2018 and 1992. We identified three randomized trials, one observational study and 66 case reports that provided credible evidence of statin-induced cognitive impairment. We also identified seven randomized trials and two observational studies reporting no significant evidence of statin-induced cognitive impairment. Expert opinion: We found methodological differences that may have contributed to the divergence of these results. Evaluation of all these studies indicated that statin-associated cognitive decline is a real entity. Likely mechanisms to explain the adverse effects include 1. Reduction of synthesis of coenzyme Q10 with consequent increasing oxidative stress and reduction of cerebral energy production; 2. Depletion of central nervous system myelin by inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. We conclude that statin-induced cognitive decline does exist, needs to be better recognized and requires more studies of prevention and treatment.

Keywords: Biological mechanisms; Coenzyme Q; HMG-CoA; cardiovascular disease; cognitive decline; side-effects; statins.