New insights into link between anti-cholesterol statin drugs and depression

June 30, 2010
Depression and anxiety reported by some people taking anti-cholesterol statin drugs or using low-cholesterol diets might be caused by long-term, low levels of cholesterol in the brain. Credit: iStock

Scientists are reporting a possible explanation for the symptoms of anxiety and depression that occur in some patients taking the popular statin family of anti-cholesterol drugs, and reported by some individuals on low-cholesterol diets. These symptoms could result from long-term, low levels of cholesterol in the brain, the report suggests. It appears in ACS' weekly journal Biochemistry.

Amitabha Chattopadhyay and colleagues note in the study that statins work by blocking a key enzyme involved in the body's production of cholesterol. Some studies link the drugs to an increased risk of and , but the reasons are unclear. The scientists previously showed that maintaining normal cholesterol levels is important for the function of cell receptors for serotonin, a brain hormone that influences mood and behavior. But the long-term effect of cholesterol depletion on these receptors, which can occur in patients taking anti-cholesterol drugs, is unknown.

The scientists turned to the statin medication mevastatin to find out. In lab tests using human serotonin receptors expressed in animal cells, they showed that long-term use of the drug caused significant changes in the structure and function of serotonin cell receptors. Adding cholesterol to cells treated with mevastatin restored them to normal. The results represent the first report describing the effect of long-term cholesterol depletion on this type of and suggest that chronic, low levels in the brain might trigger anxiety and depression, the scientists say.

Explore further: New study to test Statin-Parkinson's link

More information: "Chronic Cholesterol Depletion using Statin Impairs the Function and Dynamics of Human Serotonin1A Receptors", Biochemistry.

Related Stories

New study to test Statin-Parkinson's link

January 16, 2007

Researchers are sufficiently worried by new study results that they are planning clinical trials involving thousands of people to examine the possible link between Parkinson's disease and statins, the world biggest selling ...

Prions link cholesterol to neurodegeneration

February 12, 2008

Prion infection of neurons increases the free cholesterol content in cell membranes. A new study published in the online open access journal BMC Biology suggests that disturbances in membrane cholesterol may be the mechanism ...

Recommended for you

The universe's most miraculous molecule

October 9, 2015

It's the second most abundant substance in the universe. It dissolves more materials than any other solvent. It stores incredible amounts of energy. Life as we know it would not be possible without it. And although it covers ...

New approach for 'nanohoops' could energize future devices

October 12, 2015

When Ramesh Jasti began making tiny organic circular structures using carbon atoms, the idea was to improve carbon nanotubes being developed for use in electronics or optical devices. He quickly realized, however, that his ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 01, 2010
Zocor did that to me, putting me into a deep depression. Stopped taking it and in 3 weeks it went away. Taking Lipitor gave me 'fibromialgia' which made my muscles so weak and painful I couldn't get out of bed. Stopped and it went away.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.