Friday, March 19, 2010
Statins enhance memory
I started taking low doses of a generic statin (Simvastatin) several years ago not because my cholesterol needed lowering, but because I had read about anti-inflammatory effects of the drug. (And it seems to me increases in inflammatory processes are a central issue in aging). Statins also appear to have beneficial effects on the central nervous system. They improve the outcome of stroke and traumatic brain injury, their use has been associated with a reduced prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia. Man et al (Neuroscience, Volume 166, Issue 2, 17 March 2010, Pages 435-444) have now found that simvastatin, widely used in humans, enhances learning and memory in non-transgenic mice as well as in transgenic mice with AD-like pathology on a mixed genetic background. On looking for mechanisms that might underlie these beneficial effects they find that statins enhance a synaptic process called long term potentiation that is a central component of learning and memory.