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1.  Possible modification of Alzheimer’s disease by statins in midlife: interactions with genetic and non-genetic risk factors 
The benefits of statins, commonly prescribed for hypercholesterolemia, in treating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have not yet been fully established. A recent randomized clinical trial did not show any therapeutic effects of two statins on cognitive function in AD. Interestingly, however, the results of the Rotterdam study, one of the largest prospective cohort studies, showed reduced risk of AD in statin users. Based on the current understanding of statin actions and AD pathogenesis, it is still worth exploring whether statins can prevent AD when administered decades before the onset of AD or from midlife. This review discusses the possible beneficial effects of statins, drawn from previous clinical observations, pathogenic mechanisms, which include β-amyloid (Aβ) and tau metabolism, genetic and non-genetic risk factors (apolipoprotein E, cholesterol, sex, hypertension, and diabetes), and other clinical features (vascular dysfunction and oxidative and inflammatory stress) of AD. These findings suggest that administration of statins in midlife might prevent AD in late life by modifying genetic and non-genetic risk factors for AD. It should be clarified whether statins inhibit Aβ accumulation, tau pathological features, and brain atrophy in humans. To answer this question, a randomized controlled study using amyloid positron emission tomography (PET), tau-PET, and magnetic resonance imaging would be useful. This clinical evaluation could help us to overcome this devastating disease.
PMCID: PMC4005936  PMID: 24795626
statin; Alzheimer’s disease; prevention; Abeta; isoprenoids
2.  Cholesterol and Statins in Alzheimer’s Disease 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(11):1385-1392.
Substantial evidence has accumulated in support of the hypothesis that elevated cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As a result, much work has been done investigating the potential use of lipid-lowering agents (LLAs), particularly statins, as preventive or therapeutic agents for AD. While epidemiology and preclinical statin research (described in Part 1 of this review) have generally supported an adverse role of high cholesterol regarding AD, human studies of statins (reviewed here) show highly variable outcomes, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. We identify several confounding factors among the human studies, including differing blood-brain barrier permeabilities among statins, the stage in AD at which statins were administered, and the drugs’ pleiotropic metabolic effects, all of which contribute to the substantial variability observed to date. We recommend that future human studies of this important therapeutic topic 1) take the blood-brain barrier permeabilities of statins into account when analyzing results, 2) include specific analyses of effects on low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and most importantly, 3) conduct statin treatment trials solely in mild AD patients, who have the best chance for disease modification.
PMCID: PMC3248784  PMID: 22084122
Statins, long known to be beneficial in conditions where dyslipidemia occurs by lowering serum cholesterol levels, also have been proposed for use in neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer disease. However, it is not clear that the purported effectiveness of statins in neurodegenerative disorders is directly related to cholesterol-lowering effects of these agents; rather, the pleiotropic functions of statins likely play critical roles.
Moreover, it is becoming more apparent with additional studies that statins can have deleterious effects in preclinical studies and lack effectiveness in various recent clinical trials. This perspective paper outlines pros and cons of the use of statins in neurodegenerative disorders, with particular emphasis on Alzheimer disease.
PMCID: PMC3130102  PMID: 21536132
4.  Effects of Simvastatin on Cholesterol Metabolism and Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers 
Preclinical and epidemiologic studies suggest a protective effect of statins on Alzheimer disease (AD). Experimental evidence indicates that some statins can cross the blood-brain barrier, alter brain cholesterol metabolism, and may ultimately decrease the production of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. Despite these promising leads, clinical trials have yielded inconsistent results regarding the benefits of statin treatment in AD. Seeking to detect a biological signal of statins effect on AD, we conducted a 12-week open-label trial with simvastatin 40 mg/d and then 80 mg/d in 12 patients with AD or amnestic mild cognitive impairment and hypercholesterolemia. We quantified cholesterol precursors and metabolites and AD biomarkers of Aβ and tau in both plasma and cerebrospinal fluid at baseline and after the 12-week treatment period. We found a modest but significant inhibition of brain cholesterol biosynthesis after simvastatin treatment, as indexed by a decrease of cerebrospinal fluid lathosterol and plasma 24S-hydroxycholesterol. Despite this effect, there were no changes in AD biomarkers. Our findings indicate that simvastatin treatment can affect brain cholesterol metabolism within 12 weeks, but did not alter molecular indices of AD pathology during this short-term treatment.
PMCID: PMC3694274  PMID: 20473136
Alzheimer disease; simvastatin; cholesterol; biomarker
5.  Pleiotropic effects of statin therapy 
Trends in molecular medicine  2008;14(1):37-44.
Statins inhibit the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, which is required for cholesterol biosynthesis, and are beneficial in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Most of the benefits of statin therapy are owing to the lowering of serum cholesterol levels. However, by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, statins can also inhibit the synthesis of isoprenoids, which are important lipid attachments for intracellular signaling molecules, such as Rho, Rac and Cdc42. Therefore, it is possible that statins might exert cholesterol-independent or ‘pleiotropic’ effects through direct inhibition of these small GTP-binding proteins. Recent studies have shown that statins might have important roles in diseases that are not mediated by cholesterol. Here, we review data from recent clinical trials that support the concept of statin pleiotropy and provide a rationale for their clinical importance.
PMCID: PMC2621332  PMID: 18068482
6.  Simvastatin enhances immune responses to Aβ vaccination and attenuates vaccination-induced behavioral alterations 
Brain research  2010;1356:102-111.
Statins are widely used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis. Some evidence has indicated that statins might have therapeutic and preventive benefits for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We and others also have shown the beneficial effect of statin treatment in reversing learning and memory deficits in animal models of AD. However, data from clinical trials are inconclusive. We previously documented that the adenovirus vector encoding 11 tandem repeats of Aβ1-6 fused to the receptor-binding domain (Ia) of Pseudomonas exotoxin A, AdPEDI-(Aβ1-6)11, is effective in inducing an immune response against amyloid-β protein (Aβ) and reducing brain Aβ load in Alzheimer’s mouse models. In the present study, we examined whether the administration of simvastatin can modulate immune and behavioral responses of C57BL/6 mice to vaccination. Simvastatin was given to the animals as a diet admixture for four weeks, followed by nasal vaccination with AdPEDI-(Aβ1-6)11 once per week for four weeks. The cholesterol-lowering action of simvastatin was monitored by measuring the cholesterol levels in plasma. Simvastatin significantly increased the number of the mice responding to vaccination compared with the mice receiving only AdPEDI-(Aβ1-6)11. Immunoglobulin isotyping revealed that the vaccination predominantly induced Th2 immune responses. Simvastatin treatment prevented Aβ-induced production of IFN-γ in splenocytes. The adenovirus vaccination altered mouse behavior in T- and elevated plus-maze tests and simvastatin counteracted such behavioral changes. Our results indicate that simvastatin clearly enhances the immune responses of C57BL/6 mice to the nasal vaccination with AdPEDI-(Aβ1-6)11. Simvastatin may be effective in preventing behavioral changes associated with vaccination.
PMCID: PMC2943023  PMID: 20691674
adenovirus; statins; sickness behavior; anxiety; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid
7.  Effects of ezetimibe add-on therapy for high-risk patients with dyslipidemia 
Ezetimibe (Zetia®) is a potent inhibitor of cholesterol absorption that has been approved for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Statin, an inhibitor of cholesterol synthesis, is the first-choice drug to reduce low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) for patients with hypercholesterolemia, due to its strong effect to lower the circulating LDL-C levels. Because a high dose of statins cause concern about rhabdomyolysis, it is sometimes difficult to achieve the guideline-recommended levels of LDL-C in high-risk patients with hypercholesterolemia treated with statin monotherapy. Ezetimibe has been reported to reduce LDL-C safely with both monotherapy and combination therapy with statins.
To investigate the effect of ezetimibe as "add-on" therapy to statin on hypercholesterolemia, we examined biomarkers and vascular endothelial function in 14 patients with hypercholesterolemia before and after the 22-week ezetimibe add-on therapy. Ezetimibe add-on therapy reduced LDL-C by 24% compared with baseline (p < 0.005), with 13 patients (93%) reaching their LDL cholesterol goals. Of the Ezetimibe add-on therapy significantly improved not only LDL-C, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and apolipoprotein (apo)B levels, but also reduced levels of triglyceride (TG), the ratio of LDL/HDL-C, the ratio of apoB/apoA-I, and a biomarker for oxidative stress (d-ROMs). Furthermore, ezetimibe add-on therapy improved vascular endothelial function in high-risk patients with hypercholesterolemia.
In conclusion, ezetimibe as add-on therapy to statin might be a therapeutic good option for high-risk patients with atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2768708  PMID: 19821987
8.  Statins impair glucose uptake in tumor cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):92-94.
Statins play a pivotal role in lowering the blood cholesterol level, which is critical for patients with hypercholesterolemia. In addition to its benefits in cardiovascular protection, statins have been found to be useful in several other clinical conditions, including cancer. In a recent report that appeared in Neoplasia, Malenda et al., have demonstrated that statins inhibit glucose uptake in cancer cells. Using multiple statins and glucose analogs (18FDG and 6-NBDG) they showed that inhibition of cholesterol synthesis underlies the blockade of glucose uptake in several cancer cell lines. Further, based on an exploratory clinical study, they also showed that diagnostic PET-CT imaging in patients treated for hypercholesterolemia was affected due to statin-mediated inhibition of glucose uptake. As the finding is based on the data from a single patient (out of four), it seems that (1) the need for a large cohort study and (2) the detailed characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying such biological effects would be justified.
PMCID: PMC3572005  PMID: 23254955
statins; glucose uptake; FDG; PET imaging; cholesterol; GLUT1; cancer
9.  Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Disease in the Elderly. Facts and Gaps 
Aging and Disease  2013;4(3):154-169.
Hypercholesterolemia is a major cardiovascular risk factor that increases the incidence of atherosclerotic diseases in adults, although the association is less well established in the elderly. The role of statins is well characterized for the reduction of myocardial infarction incidence or death in individuals with a history or high risk of cardiovascular diseases, regardless of age. Therapeutic measures recommended to prevent cardiovascular diseases and to reduce cholesterol levels in the elderly, such as lifestyle changes and lipid-lowering drugs, particularly statins, are based on studies conducted in younger adults. This narrative review aims to summarize the main observational studies and randomized clinical trials that have studied the relationship between cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases and the potential benefits and drawbacks of statins use in elderly patients.
PMCID: PMC3660125  PMID: 23730531
hypercholesterolemia; cardiovascular disease; coronary artery disease; stroke; peripheral arterial disease; aged
10.  Impact of dyslipidemic components of metabolic syndrome, adiponectin levels, and anti-diabetes medications on malondialdehyde-modified low-density lipoprotein levels in statin-treated diabetes patients with coronary artery disease 
A residual risk of cardiovascular disease tends to persist despite standard prevention therapy with statins. This may stem partly from increased oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. However, how oxidized LDL can be further reduced beyond statin therapy in high-risk diabetes patients remains unclear. We aimed to clarify the clinical factors associated with oxidized LDL levels in statin-treated high-risk diabetes patients.
This cross-sectional observational study included 210 diabetes patients with coronary artery diseases (CAD) who were treated with statins. We determined serum malondialdehyde-modified LDL (MDA-LDL), LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglyceride (TG), remnant lipoprotein cholesterol, hemoglobin (Hb) A1c, adiponectin, and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and investigated the factors influencing the MDA-LDL level.
In univariate analysis, the MDA-LDL level was significantly correlated with LDL cholesterol (p < 0.0001), TG (p < 0.0001), HDL cholesterol (p = 0.017), and adiponectin (p = 0.001) levels but not with age, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, or HbA1c levels. Even after adjusting for the LDL cholesterol level, the correlations between the MDA-LDL level and the TG, HDL cholesterol, and adiponectin levels were still significant. Among these significant factors, multivariate analysis revealed that the MDA-LDL level was independently associated with the LDL cholesterol, TG, and HDL cholesterol but not with adiponectin levels. The MDA-LDL level was also significantly associated with the CRP level (p = 0.014) and the remnant lipoprotein cholesterol level (p < 0.0001) independently of the LDL cholesterol level. The number of metabolic syndrome (MS) components was significantly associated with the MDA-LDL/LDL cholesterol ratio (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, the use of metformin and α-glucosidase inhibitors was inversely associated with high MDA-LDL levels (p = 0.033 and 0.018, respectively).
In statin-treated diabetes patients with CAD, the MDA-LDL level was significantly correlated with TG and HDL cholesterol levels. Adiponectin level was also significantly associated with the MDA-LDL level, but not independent of the above-mentioned factors. The management of dyslipidemic MS components, including the use of metformin or α-glucosidase inhibitors, may be important for reducing the oxidized LDL levels beyond statin therapy in high-risk diabetes patients.
PMCID: PMC4029151  PMID: 24314067
MDA-LDL; Metabolic syndrome; Triglycerides; HDL cholesterol; Adiponectin; Diabetes mellitus; Coronary artery disease; Statins
11.  Prospects of Statins in Parkinson Disease 
Parkinson disease (PD) is second only to Alzheimer disease as the most common neurodegenerative disorder in humans. Despite intense investigations, no effective therapy is available to halt the progression of PD. Although statins are widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs throughout the world, recent studies suggest that these drugs modulate neurodegeneration-related signaling processes and may be beneficial for PD. Simvastatin is the most potent statin in crossing the blood-brain barrier, and this particular statin drug negatively correlates with the incidence of PD and shows efficacy in animal models of PD. However, PD mainly occurs in the aging population, who are more vulnerable to cholesterol or lipid-related disorders, raising questions whether this possible beneficial effect of statins in PD patients is cholesterol dependent or cholesterol independent. This article presents data on the therapeutic efficacy of simvastatin in a chronic MPTP model of PD, reviews recent literature, and discusses the pros and cons of statin therapy in PD.
PMCID: PMC3132406  PMID: 21252380
Parkinson disease; statins; signal transduction; dopamine; neuroprotection
12.  Simvastatin enhances hippocampal long-term potentiation in C57BL/6 mice 
Neuroscience  2009;166(2):435-444.
Statins inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase (HMG-CoA), the rate-limiting enzyme in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, and they are widely used to control plasma cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. However, emerging evidence indicates that the beneficial effects of statins extend to the central nervous system. Statins have been shown to improve the outcome of stroke and traumatic brain injury, and statin use has been associated with a reduced prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. However, prospective studies with statins in AD have produced mixed results. Recently, we reported that simvastatin, a widely used statin in humans, enhances learning and memory in non-transgenic mice as well as in transgenic mice with AD-like pathology on a mixed genetic background. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of simvastatin on learning and memory remain elusive. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of acute simvastatin treatment on hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), a cellular model of learning and memory, in brain slices from C57BL/6 mice. Our results demonstrate that a prolonged in vitro simvastatin treatment for 2-4 hrs, but not a short-term 20-min exposure, significantly increases the magnitude of LTP at CA3-CA1 synapses without altering basal synaptic transmission or the paired-pulse facilitation ratio in hippocampal slices. Furthermore, we show that phosphorylation of Akt (protein kinase B) is increased significantly in the CA1 region following 2-hour treatment with simvastatin, and that inhibition of Akt phosphorylation suppresses the simvastatin-induced enhancement of LTP. These findings suggest activation of Akt as a molecular pathway for augmented hippocampal LTP by simvastatin treatment, and implicate enhancement of hippocampal LTP as a potential cellular mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of simvastatin on cognitive function.
PMCID: PMC2824052  PMID: 20040368
statins; synaptic plasticity; learning and memory; cognitive function; protein phosphorylation; Alzheimer’s disease
13.  Cholesterol synthesis inhibitors protect against platelet-activating factor-induced neuronal damage 
Platelet-activating factor (PAF) is implicated in the neuronal damage that accompanies ischemia, prion disease and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since some epidemiological studies demonstrate that statins, drugs that reduce cholesterol synthesis, have a beneficial effect on mild AD, we examined the effects of two cholesterol synthesis inhibitors on neuronal responses to PAF.
Primary cortical neurons were treated with cholesterol synthesis inhibitors (simvastatin or squalestatin) prior to incubation with different neurotoxins. The effects of these drugs on neuronal cholesterol levels and neuronal survival were measured. Immunoblots were used to determine the effects of simvastatin or squalestatin on the distribution of the PAF receptor and an enzyme linked immunoassay was used to quantify the amounts of PAF receptor.
PAF killed primary neurons in a dose-dependent manner. Pre-treatment with simvastatin or squalestatin reduced neuronal cholesterol and increased the survival of PAF-treated neurons. Neuronal survival was increased 50% by 100 nM simvastatin, or 20 nM squalestatin. The addition of mevalonate restored cholesterol levels, and reversed the protective effect of simvastatin. Simvastatin or squalestatin did not affect the amounts of the PAF receptor but did cause it to disperse from within lipid rafts.
Treatment of neurons with cholesterol synthesis inhibitors including simvastatin and squalestatin protected neurons against PAF. Treatment caused a percentage of the PAF receptors to disperse from cholesterol-sensitive domains. These results raise the possibility that the effects of statins on neurodegenerative disease are, at least in part, due to desensitisation of neurons to PAF.
PMCID: PMC1781934  PMID: 17233902
14.  ApoB100/LDLR-/- Hypercholesterolaemic Mice as a Model for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Neuronal Damage 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22712.
Recent clinical findings support the notion that the progressive deterioration of cholesterol homeostasis is a central player in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Epidemiological studies suggest that high midlife plasma total cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of AD. This paper reports the plasma cholesterol concentrations, cognitive performance, locomotor activity and neuropathological signs in a murine model (transgenic mice expressing apoB100 but knockout for the LDL receptor [LDLR]) of human familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH). From birth, these animals have markedly elevated LDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein B100 (apoB100) levels. These transgenic mice were confirmed to have higher plasma cholesterol concentrations than wild-type mice, an effect potentiated by aging. Further, 3-month-old transgenic mice showed cholesterol (total and fractions) concentrations considerably higher than those of 18-month-old wild-type mice. The hypercholesterolaemia of the transgenic mice was associated with a clear locomotor deficit (as determined by rotarod, grip strength and open field testing) and impairment of the episodic-like memory (determined by the integrated memory test). This decline in locomotor activity and cognitive status was associated with neuritic dystrophy and/or the disorganization of the neuronal microtubule network, plus an increase in astrogliosis and lipid peroxidation in the brain regions associated with AD, such as the motor and lateral entorhinal cortex, the amygdaloid basal nucleus, and the hippocampus. Aortic atherosclerotic lesions were positively correlated with age, although potentiated by the transgenic genotype, while cerebral β-amyloidosis was positively correlated with genetic background rather than with age. These findings confirm hypercholesterolaemia as a key biomarker for monitoring mild cognitive impairment, and shows these transgenic mice can be used as a model for cognitive and psycho-motor decline.
PMCID: PMC3144244  PMID: 21829488
15.  Diet and Age Interactions with Regards to Cholesterol Regulation and Brain Pathogenesis 
Cholesterol is an essential molecule for brain homeostasis; yet, hypercholesterolemia and its numerous complications are believed to play a role in promoting multiple aspects of brain pathogenesis. An ever increasing number of individuals in modern Western Society are regularly consuming diets high in fat which promote the development of hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, modern societies are becoming increasingly aged, causing a collision between increased hypercholesterolemia and increased aging, which will likely lead to the development of increased pathological conditions due to hypercholesterolemia, thereby promoting deleterious neurochemical and behavioral changes in the brain. Lastly, while beneficial in controlling cholesterol levels, the long-term use of statins itself may potentially promote adverse effects on brain homeostasis, although specifics on this remain largely unknown. This review will focus on linking the current understanding of diet-induced hypercholesterolemia (as well as statin use) to the development of oxidative stress, neurochemical alterations, and cognitive disturbances in the aging brain.
PMCID: PMC2852598  PMID: 20396385
16.  Chronic vascular risk factors (cholesterol, homocysteine, ethanol) impair spatial memory, decline cholinergic neurons and induce blood–brain barrier leakage in rats in vivo 
Epidemiological studies show that vascular risk factors (e.g. atherosclerosis, diabetes, homocysteine, hypertension or cholesterol) may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Animal models may help to discover the role of vascular risk factors on cognition. In the present project we treated male Sprague Dawley rats with a diet containing homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia) or cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) for 5 months or exposed the rats to ethanol (20% in drinking water) or a combination of cholesterol + ethanol (mix) for 12 months. Our experiments show that all 3 treatments (homocysteine, cholesterol, ethanol) declined spatial memory in the 8-arm radial maze, reduced the number of cholinergic neurons and induced blood–brain barrier leakage in the cortex. Rats treated with cholesterol also displayed markedly enhanced inflammation in the cortex. Levels of amyloid precursor protein, beta-amyloid(1–42), as well as tau and phospho-tau 181 were significantly enhanced in the cortex of cholesterol-fed rats. A combination of ethanol and cholesterol did not further potentiate the effects on spatial memory, cholinergic neurons and blood–brain barrier leakage. The data suggest that chronic mild vascular risk factors over months induce small lesions of the brain capillaries in the cortex, which may contribute to the development of vascular dementia or also Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC3484398  PMID: 22819352
Vascular risk factors; Blood–brain barrier leakage; Alzheimer's disease; Vascular dementia
17.  Effects of Atorvastatin on Cerebral Blood Flow in Middle-Aged Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Study 
Current Alzheimer research  2012;9(8):990-997.
Hypercholesterolemia in midlife increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and contributes to cerebrovascular dysregulation - an early finding in preclinical AD pathology. Statins improve vascular reactivity, but it is unknown if they increase regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) in individuals at risk for AD.
In a randomized, controlled, double-blind pilot study, 16 asymptomatic middle-aged adults with parental history of AD were randomized to atorvastatin or placebo daily for 4 months. At baseline and month 4, regional CBF was measured using arterial spin-labeling magnetic resonance imaging and endothelial function was measured using brachial artery ultrasound.
At baseline, participants with low HDL-cholesterol, higher global vascular risk, and greater endothelial dysfunction had reduced regional CBF in areas of the brain related to memory and learning (all p<0.03). Using voxel-based analysis, 4 months of atorvastatin increased CBF in bilateral hippocampi, fusiform gyrus, putamen and insular cortices compared to placebo.
In this pilot study, atorvastatin increased regional CBF in persons at risk for AD. Further research is warranted to confirm whether statins increase CBF in areas of the brain related to memory and learning and whether such perfusion changes are associated with a delay in the onset of AD.
PMCID: PMC3576818  PMID: 22175654
Alzheimer’s disease; cerebral blood flow; dementia; MRI perfusion; prevention; statins
18.  Isoprenoid Metabolism and the Pleiotropic Effects of Statins 
Current atherosclerosis reports  2003;5(5):372-378.
Convincing evidence from basic research and animal studies shows that HMG CoA reductase inhibitors or statins, exert cardiovascular protective effects beyond cholesterol-lowering. Because of the central role of LDL-C in mediating vascular pathology and the efficacy of statins for lowering LDL-C, the clinical importance of these additional non-lipid effects remains to be determined. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence from recent clinical trials, which suggests that some of the beneficial effects of statins may be unrelated to changes in LDL-C. Indeed, in animal studies, many of the cholesterol-independent or “pleiotropic” effects of statins are due predominantly to inhibition of isoprenoid, but not cholesterol synthesis. Thus, with the recent findings of the HPS and ASCOT-LLA, the potential cholesterol-independent effects of statins have shifted the treatment strategy from numerical lipid parameters to the global assessment of cardiovascular risks.
PMCID: PMC2676316  PMID: 12911847
19.  Dyslipidemia and dementia: current epidemiology, genetic evidence and mechanisms behind the associations 
Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD  2012;30(0 2):S127-S145.
The role of cholesterol in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is still controversial. Some studies aiming to explore the association between lipids and/or lipid lowering treatment and AD indicate a harmful effect of dyslipidemia and a beneficial effect of statin therapy on AD risk. The findings are supported by genetic linkage and association studies that have clearly identified several genes involved in cholesterol metabolism or transport as AD susceptibility genes, including Apolipoprotein E (APOE), Apolipoprotein J (APOJ, CLU) and the sortilin-related receptor (SORL1). Functional cell biology studies support a critical involvement of lipid raft cholesterol in the modulation of AbetaPP processing by β- and γ-secretase resulting in altered Aβ production. Contradictory evidence comes from epidemiological studies showing no or controversial association between dyslipidemia and AD risk, cell biology studies suggesting that there is little exchange between circulating and brain cholesterol, that increased membrane cholesterol is protective by inhibiting loss of membrane integrity through amyloid cytotoxicity, and that cellular cholesterol inhibits co-localization of BACE1 and AbetaPP in non-raft membrane domains and thereby increasing generation of plasmin, an Aβ-degrading enzyme. The aim of this review is to summarize the findings of epidemiologic and cell biologic studies aiming to elucidate the role of cholesterol in AD etiology.
PMCID: PMC3689537  PMID: 21965313
Alzheimer’s disease; cholesterol; Aβ peptides; AbetaPP; neurodegeneration; amyloid; genetics
20.  Model-based development of gemcabene, a new lipid-altering agent 
The AAPS Journal  2005;7(3):E513-E522.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the value of model-based, quantitative decision making during the development of gemcabene, a novel lipid-altering agent. The decisions were driven by a model of the likely clinical profile of gemcabene in comparison with its competitors, such as 3-hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), the cholesterol absorption inhibitor ezetimibe, and their combination. Dose-response models were developed for the lipid effects (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C] and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol); adverse effects, such as persistent alanine aminotransferase elevation and myalgia; tolerability issues, such as headache; and risk reduction for coronary artery disease-related events for 5 statins, ezetimibe, gemcabene, and their combinations. The integrated model was based on the joint analysis of publicly available summary-level data and proprietary patient-level data and included information from almost 10,000 patients. The model was made available and accessible to the development team by using the Pharsight Drug Model Explorer model visualization technology. The modeling greatly enhanced the understanding of the clinical profile of gemcabene when given alone or in combination with a statin. The interaction between statins and gemcabene for the LDL-C lowering effect was found to be significantly different from the interaction between statins and ezetimibe. Ezetimibe was found to have a pharmacological-independent interaction resulting in additional LDL-C lowering over the entire statin dose range. The gemcabene interaction was found to be less than independent, resulting in almost no additional LDL-C lowering at high-statin doses, although the drug has a significant LDL-C effect when administered alone or in combination with a low dose of a statin. The quick availability of the model after completion of the first phase II trial in the target patient population and the ability of the team to explore the potential clinical efficacy and safety of gemcabene in comparison with alternative treatment options facilitated a quick decision to stop development.
PMCID: PMC2751254  PMID: 16353929
statins; gemcabene; ezetimibe; doseresponse; LDL
21.  Efficacy, safety and tolerability of ongoing statin plus ezetimibe versus doubling the ongoing statin dose in hypercholesterolemic Taiwanese patients: an open-label, randomized clinical trial 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:251.
Reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is associated with reduced risk for major coronary events. Despite statin efficacy, a considerable proportion of statin-treated hypercholesterolemic patients fail to reach therapeutic LDL-C targets as defined by guidelines. This study compared the efficacy of ezetimibe added to ongoing statins with doubling the dose of ongoing statin in a population of Taiwanese patients with hypercholesterolemia.
This was a randomized, open-label, parallel-group comparison study of ezetimibe 10 mg added to ongoing statin compared with doubling the dose of ongoing statin. Adult Taiwanese hypercholesterolemic patients not at optimal LDL-C levels with previous statin treatment were randomized (N = 83) to ongoing statin + ezetimibe (simvastatin, atorvastatin or pravastatin + ezetimibe at doses of 20/10, 10/10 or 20/10 mg) or doubling the dose of ongoing statin (simvastatin 40 mg, atorvastatin 20 mg or pravastatin 40 mg) for 8 weeks. Percent change in total cholesterol, LDL-C, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglycerides, and specified safety parameters were assessed at 4 and 8 weeks.
At 8 weeks, patients treated with statin + ezetimibe experienced significantly greater reductions compared with doubling the statin dose in LDL-C (26.2% vs 17.9%, p = 0.0026) and total cholesterol (20.8% vs 12.2%, p = 0.0003). Percentage of patients achieving treatment goal was greater for statin + ezetimibe (58.6%) vs doubling statin (41.2%), but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.1675). The safety and tolerability profiles were similar between treatments.
Ezetimibe added to ongoing statin therapy resulted in significantly greater lipid-lowering compared with doubling the dose of statin in Taiwanese patients with hypercholesterolemia. Studies to assess clinical outcome benefit are ongoing.
Trial registration
Registered at NCT00652327
PMCID: PMC3403927  PMID: 22621316
Ezetimibe; Simvastatin; Atorvastatin; Pravastatin
22.  Apolipoprotein A-I and its mimetics for the treatment of atherosclerosis 
Although statin treatment leads consistently to a reduction in major adverse coronary events and death in clinical trials, approximately 60 to 70% residual risk of these outcomes still remains. One frontier of investigational drug research is treatment to increase HDL, the ‘good cholesterol’ that is associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease. HDL and its major protein apolipoprotein A-I (apoAI) are protective against atherosclerosis through several mechanisms, including the ability to mediate reverse cholesterol transport. This review focuses on the preclinical and clinical findings for two types of therapies for the treatment of atherosclerosis: apoAI-containing compounds and apoAI mimetic peptides. Both of these therapies have excellent potential to be useful clinically to promote atherosclerosis regression and stabilize existing plaques, but significant hurdles must be overcome in order to develop these approaches into safe and effective therapies.
PMCID: PMC3074469  PMID: 20730693
Apolipoprotein A-I; HDL; mimetic peptide; reverse cholesterol transport
23.  Total Cholesterol and the Risk of Parkinson's Disease: A Review for Some New Findings 
Parkinson's Disease  2009;2010:836962.
The studies on the association between serum cholesterol level and the risks of neurodegenerative diseases risk are debated. Some prospective studies have found that high serum cholesterol may increase the risks of dementia/Alzheimer's disease and ischemic stroke. However, other studies have found no association or a decreased risk of hemorrhagic stroke with increasing levels of serum total cholesterol. Little is known about the association between serum total cholesterol or a history of hypercholesterolemia and Parkinson's disease (PD) risk. Only a few case-control studies and four prospective epidemiological studies have examined this association, but the results are inconsistent. An inverse association between serum total cholesterol and the risk of PD has been found in one prospective study; however, no significant association is reported in the case-control studies and other two prospective studies. Recently, one large prospective study from Finland suggests that high total cholesterol at baseline is associated with an increased risk of PD. Further studies, especially large clinical trials, are needed.
PMCID: PMC2957328  PMID: 20975778
24.  3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl–Coenzyme A Reductase Inhibitors in the Treatment of Central Nervous System Diseases 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(9):1062-1067.
3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl–coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) are among the most prescribed medications in the United States. Statins act on the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis (the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate) and are effective in treating dyslipidemia. However, statins decrease other downstream products of the mevalonate pathway, and it is via these pathways that statins may affect inflammation, nitric oxide synthesis, the coagulation cascade, and other processes. Through these pleiotropic effects, statins may have an effect on neurologic diseases, including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and multiple sclerosis. This article reviews the basic biochemistry of statins as it relates to these pleiotropic effects, the potential role of statins in several neurologic disorders, and the results of clinical trials performed for several of these conditions.
PMCID: PMC3138553  PMID: 20837848
25.  Statins in heart failure: do we need another trial? 
Statins lower serum cholesterol and are employed for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events. Clinical evidence from observational studies, retrospective data, and post hoc analyses of data from large statin trials in various cardiovascular conditions, as well as small scale randomized trials, suggest survival and other outcome benefits for heart failure. Two recent large randomized controlled trials, however, appear to suggest statins do not have beneficial effects in heart failure. In addition to lowering cholesterol, statins are believed to have many pleotropic effects which could possibly influence the pathophysiology of heart failure. Following the two large trials, evidence from recent studies appears to support the use of statins in heart failure. This review discusses the role of statins in the pathophysiology of heart failure, current evidence for statin use in heart failure, and suggests directions for future research.
PMCID: PMC3688443  PMID: 23807852
statins; treatment; heart failure; comorbidity; mortality

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