Patients suffering from high levels of cholesterol are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors, also known as statins, are the treatment of choice for these patients because they effectively decrease their cholesterol levels and they are generally well tolerated. According to a new study, however, long term use of pravastatin (pictured), a natural and commonly prescribed statin, impairs cognitive functions.
Sarah Stuart and colleagues, University of Bristol, UK, demonstrated that when pravastatin was administered for a long period of time to rats, it reversibly decreased their memory and learning capacity. These side effects seemed not to be a feature of all statins but rather linked to the particular chemical and pharmacokinetic properties of pravastatin. When rats were treated with artovastatin, a synthetic statin having a different pharmacokinetic profile than pravastatin, cognitive side effects were not observed.
Caution should thus be taken when choosing a statin treatment.
- Chronic Pravastatin but Not Atorvastatin Treatment Impairs Cognitive Function in Two Rodent Models of Learning and Memory,
Efthimios M. C. Skoulakis, Sarah A. Stuart, James D. Robertson, Neil V. Marrion, Emma S. J. Robinson,
PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e75467.