A dose of simvastatin resulted in cognitive improvement in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), according to a study published in The Lancet Neurology. The researchers, led by Dr. Jeremy Chataway of the University College London’s Institute of Neurology, had previously reported the effect of a high dose of simvastatin––a type of statin widely used to reduce cholesterol levels––on brain atrophy in patients with SPMS. Now, after studying the same cohort of patients from that trial, the team has confirmed a positive effect of simvastatin on frontal-lobe function and physical quality of life.

The new study compared simvastatin 80 mg with placebo in 140 subjects with SPMS. The investigators conducted a range of cognitive assessments, including the National Adult Reading Test, the Visual Object and Space Perception Battery (cube analysis), and the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), which is often used to assess some forms of frontal dementia.

Cognitive, neuropsychiatric, and health-related quality of life was assessed by neuropsychologists as well as by the participants themselves at 12 and 24 months.

At 24 months, the FAB score was 1.2 points higher in the simvastatin-treated group than in the placebo group. The simvastatin group also had a mean physical component score from self-reports that was 2.5 points better than the score among placebo-treated patients.

Chataway commented: “The study is clinically important because patients with MS, in particular those with progressive MS, have a significant but under-reported cognitive burden, such as memory, processing, and mental flexibility. We have shown in this early work that simvastatin can help that part of it.”

The Multiple Sclerosis Society is funding an upcoming phase 3 trial of simvastatin in MS patients.

Source: University College London; June 7, 2017.