April 9, 2015 | News | MS ResearchMS Treatments

Statins not helpful for relapsing-remitting MS

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Statin drugs (e.g. Lipitor, Crestor and many others) are used to lower cholesterol and they are among the most widely prescribed medications. But in addition to their ability to reduce LDL cholesterol, these drugs also have anti-inflammatory effects. So a number of studies have investigated whether these effects would be helpful in multiple sclerosis.

According to a new pooled analysis of eight studies, statins added to an interferon does not appear to provide any additional benefit for relapsing-remitting MS (Pihl-Jensen and colleagues. CNS Drugs 2015; epublished March 21, 2015). (Statins are still helpful to lower cholesterol if your levels are high.) Indeed, while some have suggested that statins might at least reduce inflammatory activity in the brain, there was a tendency for there to be more disease activity in people during statin therapy.

The findings were different for the few studies that looked at people with secondary-progressive MS. In this group of people, statins did seem to slow disability progression and reduce the rate of tissue loss in the brain, although there was no effect on relapses. More studies will be needed to determine if the benefits of statins in SPMS are a true effect.

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