Statin therapy and risk of Alzheimer’s and age-related neurodegenerative diseases

Georgina Torrandell-Haro, Gregory L. Branigan, Francesca Vitali, Nophar Geifman, Julie M. Zissimopoulos, Roberta Diaz Brinton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Introduction: Establishing efficacy of and molecular pathways for statins has the potential to impact incidence of Alzheimer’s and age-related neurodegenerative diseases (NDD). Methods: This retrospective cohort study surveyed US-based Humana claims, which includes prescription and patient records from private-payer and Medicare insurance. Claims from 288,515 patients, aged 45 years and older, without prior history of NDD or neurological surgery, were surveyed for a diagnosis of NDD starting 1 year following statin exposure. Patients were required to be enrolled with claims data for at least 6 months prior to first statin prescription and at least 3 years thereafter. Computational system biology analysis was conducted to determine unique target engagement for each statin. Results: Of the 288,515 participants included in the study, 144,214 patients (mean [standard deviation (SD)] age, 67.22 [3.8] years) exposed to statin therapies, and 144,301 patients (65.97 [3.2] years) were not treated with statins. The mean (SD) follow-up time was 5.1 (2.3) years. Exposure to statins was associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (1.10% vs 2.37%; relative risk [RR], 0.4643; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44–0.49; P < .001), dementia 3.03% vs 5.39%; RR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.54–0.58; P < .001), multiple sclerosis (0.08% vs 0.15%; RR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.41– 0.66; P < .001), Parkinson’s disease (0.48% vs 0.92%; RR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.48–0.58; P < .001), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (0.02% vs 0.05%; RR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30– 0.69; P < .001). All NDD incidence for all statins, except for fluvastatin (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.65-1.30; P = 0.71), was reduced with variances in individual risk profiles. Pathway analysis indicated unique and common profiles associated with risk reduction efficacy. Discussion: Benefits and risks of statins relative to neurological outcomes should be considered when prescribed for at-risk NDD populations. Common statin activated pathways indicate overarching systems required for risk reduction whereas unique targets could advance a precision medicine approach to prevent neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12108
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Age
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biology pathway analysis
  • Cholesterol
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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