Statins Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis Yields Controversial Results

Click here to receive MS news via e-mail

shutterstock_212400655Researchers at the IRCCS Centro Neurolesi “Bonino-Pulejo” and the University of Messina in Italy have performed a review on the immunomodulatory activity reported for statins in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and on clinical trial results. The study was published in the journal Pharmacological Research and is entitled “Role of statins in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Statins are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medication for hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels) due to their ability to inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis. Statins have also been shown to have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, making them an attractive therapeutic option for immune-mediated disorders as is the case of MS. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that results from an attack on the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optical nerves) by the body’s own immune system, causing inflammation, damage to the myelin layer that covers and protects neurons and irreversible neurological disability.

Previous studies conducted in vitro and in animal models showed evidence that statins also have potential neuroprotective properties, although the mechanism behind it is poorly understood. Based on these three particular properties of statins — immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective — they have been tested in clinical trials as a therapy for MS, either alone or in combination with interferon-beta. Unfortunately, the translation of the results obtained in animal models with statins yielded conflicting results in human clinical trials.

[adrotate group=”4″]

Researchers found that some clinical trial studies indicated oral statins were only partially effective as a monotherapy in the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. When tested in combination with interferon-beta, some studies found an increase in clinical disease activity, relapses and new lesions in the brain. Other studies, however, have reported that the combination therapy of statin and interferon-beta had no effect on relapse rate, neither on the development of brain lesions in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Yet, other studies found that statins offer clinical benefits in comparison with interferon-beta treatment alone, namely in the number of relapses and lesions in MS patients.

The research team concluded that the therapeutic combination of statins plus interferon-beta is apparently well-tolerated and safe but could not find decisive proof that the concomitant administration of statins and interferon-beta improves remitting-relapsing MS disease outcomes in comparison to treatment with interferon-beta only.

The research team suggests that further large, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials should be conducted to assess and provide definitive proof of whether statins are effective, either as monotherapy or combined with interferon-beta, as a therapy for MS.

Tagged , , .

Patrícia holds her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has studied Applied Biology at Universidade do Minho and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been focused on molecular genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites.
Click here to receive MS news via e-mail


  1. Roger Barefoot says:

    I’ve been on Simverstatin since having strokes in 2005 it has no effect on MS! after trying many medications I now take LDN( Low Dose Naltroxone) 4.5mg. daily it has amazing results all symptoms suppressed,I have been using it for 4 months now and recommend it highly.

    • Alex Roitman says:


      Please note that the daily dose of Simvastatin used to treat MS (80 mg a day) is likely 2 to 8 times higher than what have been taking.

    • Robert Biccum says:

      Hi Roger:

      I have had Secondary Progressive M.S. for approx. 3 years, after transitioning from R/R M.S. for 20+ years before that. I have noticed steady declines in several areas including balance, visual acuity, and cognitive function, so was exploring Simvastatin as a possible addition to the Betaseron I have been using since first diagnosed in 1995.

      This LDN was news to me, so wondered if your situation and mine have things in common. If so, I will contact my Neurologist at Swedish to request a prescription for it!

  2. Alex Roitman says:

    If MS is not one, but a set of diseases with similar manifestations, but different causes, then controversy in the results of statin treatment is not a big surprise.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *