Researchers at the University of Bristol have been looking at whether statin medicines, used to lower cholesterol, can adversely affect cognitive function.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, tested pravastatin (marketed as Pravachol) and atorvostatin (marketed as Lipitor) in rodents. The rats were treated daily with either drug for 18 days and tested in a simple learning task before, during, and after treatment.
The findings showed that while no adverse cognitive effects were observed in rat performance for simple learning and memory tasks for Lipitor, Pravachol did impair their performance.
Specifically, the findings showed that Pravachol tended to impair learning over the last few days of treatment although this effect was fully reversed once treatment ceased. However, in the novel object discrimination task, Pravachol impaired object recognition memory. No effects were observed for Lipitor in either task.
According to the researchers, the results suggest that chronic treatment with Pravachol impairs working and recognition memory in rodents. "This finding is novel and likely reflects both the anecdotal reports and FDA advice," said Neil Marrion, Professor of Neuroscience at Bristol. "What is most interesting is that it is not a feature of all statins. However, in order to better understand the relationship between statin treatment and cognitive function, further studies are needed."
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Source: University of Bristol