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Exp Neurol. 2008 Dec;214(2):168-80. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.07.024. Epub 2008 Aug 7.

Combined medication of lovastatin with rolipram suppresses severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Darby Children's Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, USA.


Combinations of new medications or existing therapies are gaining momentum over monotherapy to treat central nervous system (CNS) demyelinating diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS). Recent studies established that statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are effective in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an MS model and are promising candidates for future MS medication. Another drug, rolipram (phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor) ameliorates the clinical severity of EAE via induction of various anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities. In this study, we tested whether combining the suboptimal doses of these drugs can suppress the severity of EAE. Prophylactic studies revealed that combined treatment with suboptimal doses of statins perform better than their individually administered optimal doses in EAE as evidenced by delayed clinical scores, reduced disease severity, and rapid recovery. Importantly, combination therapy suppressed the progression of disease in an established EAE case via attenuation of inflammation, axonal loss and demyelination. Combination treatment attenuated inflammatory T(H)1 and T(H)17 immune responses and induced T(H)2-biased immunity in the peripheral and CNS as revealed by serological, quantitative, and immunosorbant assay-based analyses. Moreover, the expansion of T regulatory (CD25(+)/Foxp3(+)) cells and self-immune tolerance was apparent in the CNS. These effects of combined drugs were reduced or minimal with either drug alone in this setting. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that the combination of these drugs suppresses EAE severity and provides neuroprotection thereby suggesting that this pharmacological approach could be a better future therapeutic strategy to treat MS patients.

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