Role of statins in the treatment of multiple sclerosis

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Statins as inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase are widely prescribed for hypercholesterolemia treatment. In the last years, statins have also been shown to exert immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects which appear to be related to inhibition of isoprenylation of small GTP-binding proteins and, at least in part, independent of their cholesterol-lowering effects. These "pleiotropic" effects make statins an attractive treatment option for immune-mediated disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Studies in vitro and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis animal model seem to support not only the efficacy of statins as immunomodulatory agents but also their potential neuroprotective properties, although the exact mechanism with which statins exert these effects has not yet been fully understood. The immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties of statins provided the incentive for several clinical trials in multiple sclerosis, in which they were tested not only as mono-therapy but also in combination with interferon-β. However, the attempt to translate the results of animal model studies in humans produced conflicting results. Further large, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, designed to evaluate the long-term effects of statins alone or in add-on to other disease-modifying therapies, are needed to support their routine clinical use in multiple sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacological Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Combination therapy
  • Immunomodulatory effect
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuroprotection
  • Randomized clinical trial
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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