In view that several studies have shown a positive correlation between high cholesterol and an increase in the
risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) statins have been proposed as alternative drugs for its treatment and/or prevention.
However, the potential benefits of statins remain controversial. Although they have lipid-lowering properties,
statins also have pleiotropic effects that are unrelated to cholesterol reduction and have a wide range of biological implications
whose consequences in brain function have not been fully characterized. In this work we analyze different studies
that have reported both, beneficial and toxic effects for statins in the central nervous system (CNS), and we revise the literature
that claims their potential for treating AD. First, we present an overview of the cholesterol metabolism and its
regulation in the brain in order to provide the framework for understanding the pathological association between altered
cholesterol and AD. Then, we describe the cholesterol-lowering and pleiotropic properties of statins that have been reported
in vivo and in in vitro models. We conclude that the effects of statins in the brain are broad and complex and that
their use for treating several diseases including AD should be carefully analyzed given their multiple and broad effects.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, amyloid beta, cholesterol pathway, HMG-CoA reductase, isoprenoids, neuroprotection, neurotoxicity,
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport