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Statins and neuroprotection

A prescription to move the field forward


Address for correspondence: W. Gibson Wood, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, University of Minnesota, 6-120 Jackson Hall, 321 Church St., Minneapolis, MN 55455.


There is growing interest in the use of statins, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, for treating specific neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis) and possibly traumatic brain injury. Neither is there a consensus on the efficacy of statins in treating the aforementioned diseases nor are the mechanisms of the purported statin-induced neuroprotection well-understood. Part of the support for statin-induced neuroprotection comes from studies using animal models and cell culture. Important information has resulted from that work but there continues to be a lack of progress on basic issues pertaining to statins and brain that impedes advancement in understanding how statins alter brain function. For example, there are scant data on the pharmacokinetics of lipophilic and hydrophilic statins in brain, statin-induced neuroprotection versus cell death, and statins and brain isoprenoids. The purpose of this mini-review will be to examine those aforementioned issues and to identify directions of future research.