January 26, 2004
In a small study presented at the American Academy of Neurology in April 2003 by Timothy Vollmer, MD, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center (Phoenix, Arizona), and colleagues, daily treatment with oral simvastatin (Zocor; Merck Inc., Whitehouse Station, New Jersey) reduced the number and volume of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected central nervous system (CNS) lesions in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RR-MS). MS lesions are classified as areas of inflammation and are markers for disease progression and severity. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that the anti-inflammatory properties of statins would slow the progression of the disease and, in turn, reduce its severity.
Dr. Vollmer and colleagues examined the safety and efficacy of once-daily simvastatin (80 mg) for 6 months in 27 patients (age range, 18-55 years) with RR-MS who had at least 1 lesion on pretreatment MRI. All patients who participated in the open-label, single-arm study underwent cranial MRIs each month for 3 months before and after treatment.
A comparison of MRI findings during the pretreatment phase of the study revealed that the use of statin therapy was associated with a reduction in the mean number (2.35 vs 1.31, respectively; P = .0001) and volume (237.96 vs 141.52, respectively; P = .0016) of lesions. In addition, patients had fewer clinically significant relapses during posttreatment than during pretreatment (0.32 vs 0.43, respectively), and no serious adverse events with simvastatin use were reported by study participants.
Although treatment with simvastatin (80 mg/day) shows promise for patients
with RR-MS, the investigators emphasized that randomized controlled studies
are needed to definitively confirm its efficacy.
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