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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Aug 4;(8):CD007514. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007514.pub2.

Statins for the treatment of dementia.

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  • 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Queen's University Belfast, Whitla Medical Building, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, UK, BT9 7BL.

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The use of statin therapy in established Alzheimer's disease (AD) or vascular dementia (VaD) is a relatively unexplored area. In AD ss-amyloid protein (Ass) is deposited in the form of extracellular plaques and previous studies have determined Ass generation is cholesterol dependent. Hypercholesterolaemia has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of VaD. Due to the role of statins in cholesterol reduction it is biologically plausible they may be efficacious in the treatment of AD and dementia.


To assess the clinical efficacy and tolerability of statins in the treatment of dementia.


We searched the Specialized Register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and LILACS, as well as many trials registries and grey literature sources (27 October 2008).


Double-blind, randomized controlled trials of statins given for at least six months in people with a diagnosis of dementia.


Two independent authors extracted and assessed data independently against the inclusion criteria. Data were pooled where appropriate and entered into a meta-analysis.


Three studies were identified (748 participants, age range 50-90 years). All patients had a diagnosis of probable or possible AD according to standard criteria and most patients were established on a cholinesterase inhibitor. Treatment in ADCLT 2005 consisted of 80mg atorvastatin compared to placebo for 52 weeks, serum low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was reduced by 54% in the atorvastatin group. Treatment in Simons 2002 consisted of 40mg simvastatin compared to placebo for 26 weeks, serum LDL cholesterol was reduced by 52% in the simvastatin group. Treatment in LEADe 2010 consisted of 80mg atorvastatin compared to placebo for 72 weeks, LDL cholesterol was reduced by 50.2% by month 3 and remained constant through month 18. Change in Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale- cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) from baseline was a primary outcome in 3 studies; when data were pooled there was considerable heterogeneity so the random effects model was used, statins did not provide any beneficial effect in this cognitive measure [mean difference -1.12, 95% CI -3.99, 1.75, p = 0.44]. All studies provided change in Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) from baseline; again random effects model was used due to considerable heterogeneity: there was no significant benefit from statins in this cognitive measure when the data were pooled [mean difference -1.53, 95% CI -3.28, 0.21, p = 0.08]. There was some evidence that patients on statins in ADCLT 2005 maintained better cognitive function if serum cholesterol was high at baseline, MMSE was higher at baseline or if they had an apolipoprotein E4 allele present. This would need to be confirmed in larger studies however. Treatment related adverse effects were available from two studies, LEADe 2010 and Simons 2002; when data were pooled there was no significant difference between statins and placebo [odds ratio 2.45, 95% CI 0.69, 8.62, p = 0.16]. There was no significant difference in global function, behaviour or activities of daily living in the statin and placebo groups. One large randomised controlled trial (RCT) ( CLASP 2008) has not yet published its results. There were no studies identified assessing role of statins in treatment of VaD. There was no evidence that statins were detrimental to cognition.


There is insufficient evidence to recommend statins for the treatment of dementia. Analysis from the studies available, including one large RCT, indicate statins have no benefit on the outcome measures ADAS-Cog or MMSE. We need to await full results from CLASP 2008 before we can be certain. This Cochrane review will be updated as these results become available.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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