, Volume 60, Issue 11, pp 2483-2491

The potential therapeutic role of statins in central nervous system autoimmune disorders

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3-Hydroxy-3-methyglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, ‘statins’ are widely used oral cholesterol-lowering drugs. Statins competitively inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, the enzyme that catalyzes conversion of HMG-CoA to L-mevalonate, a key intermediate in cholesterol synthesis. Certain metabolites of mevalonate are also involved in posttranslational modification of specific proteins involved in cell proliferation and differentiation. Thus, statins have important biologic effects that may be independent of their cholesterol-reducing properties. Recent studies indicate that statins have antiinflammatory and neuroprotective properties which may be beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis as well as other central nervous system (CNS) neurodegenerative diseases. This article will outline current experimental evidence that may suggest potential clinical benefits for patients with CNS autoimmune disorders. Ultimately, clinical trials will have to determine the safety and efficacy of statins in this patient population.

Received 17 April 2003; received after revision 21 May 2003; accepted 22 May 2003