Researchers from Austria and Germany investigated the impact of statins on a variety of immune responses in MS, comparing the effects with those induced by interferon-beta, an established disease-modifying therapy in MS. Using blood drawn from 74 MS patients and 25 healthy donors, tests were performed in vitro with lovastatin, simvastatin, mevastatin, and interferon alone, and statins plus interferon. "Our study shows that statins modify several molecules of the immune system involved in the disease progression of MS, independent of their use with interferon," notes study author Juan José Archelos, MD, of Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria. "The potent anti-inflammatory effects of statins are remarkable, and even more effective when combined with interferon-beta."
This study indicates that these well-established therapeutic agents may be a useful stand-alone or add-on therapy to interferon-beta, with the added advantage of an oral versus injectible delivery. While study results are encouraging, study authors caution that much more research is necessary to establish the precise mechanisms by which statins induce these anti-inflammatory effects.
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