Popular cholesterol lowering drugs can protect nerve cells against damage, which is known to occur in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients says a new study.
How nerve cells die in Alzheimer's disease is complex but we know that nerve cells eventually die because they are strongly overstimulated, a process called excitotoxicity.
The research led by Dr. Amalia Dolga, of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands showed that treatment with a statin called Lovastatin could prevent the death of nerve cells under these conditions.
The researchers found that statins not only prevented cells from dying but also prevented the loss of memory capacity that normally occurs after such cell death.
In a previous study Dolga had showed that these statins stimulate the protective capacity of tumor necrosis factor, which is a key player in the brain's immune response.
Dolga has demonstrated in animal experiments that this tumor necrosis factor has a strong beneficial effect on nerve cells and can protect nerve cells against death.
A widely prescribed drug like statins can activate this protective pathway revealing strong beneficial effect.
The study appears in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.