• Clinical trial;
  • neuroprotection;
  • statin;
  • simvastatin;
  • stroke

Although statins are being used for secondary prevention of ischemic stroke, recent experimental data have shown new pleiotropic effects of these drugs responsible for their role in neuroprotection. We conducted a pilot, double-blind, randomized, multicenter clinical trial to study for the first time safety and efficacy of simvastatin in the acute phase of ischemic stroke. Simvastatin/placebo was given at 3–12 h from symptom onset to 60 patients with cortical strokes. Efficacy on the evolution of several inflammation markers [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, C-reactive protein, sApo/Fas, tumor necrosis factor-α, E-selectin, L-selectin and nitrites+nitrates] and neurological outcome was evaluated at baseline, day 1, 3, 5, 7 and 90. No differences were found amongst the biomarkers studied regarding treatment allocation. Although simvastatin patients improved significantly by the third day (46.4% vs. 17.9%, = 0.022), a non-significant increase in mortality and greater proportion of infections (odds ratio 2.4, confidence interval 1.06–5.4) in the simvastatin group were the main safety concerns. Therefore, a larger clinical trial is needed to confirm the net benefit of this therapeutic approach.