Could Cholesterol Drugs Help Treat Schizophrenia?

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Statins, a class of drugs commonly prescribed to treat high cholesterol, are also thought to target several of the pathways to neuroprogression in schizophrenia. However, research now indicates that adding a statin, as an adjunct to a standard schizophrenia pharmacotherapy, provides no additional benefit.

Ahmad Ghanizadeh, MD, of the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Iran, and colleagues conducted the first randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial examining the efficacy of a stain as an add-on therapy for schizophrenia.  A total 36 adult inpatients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia ages 18–66 were concurrently administered risperidone (2–8mg/day) and lovastatin (20mg/day) or placebo. The starting dose of lovastatin was 10mg/day and titrated up to 20mg/day after one week.

No difference in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores were seen between the two groups at the end of the 60-day study, but there was a significant difference in the final risperidone dose between the two groups, the researchers reported in the journal Psychiatry Research. The mean dose of risperidone was 4.8mg/day in the lovastatin group vs. 3.4mg/day in the placebo arm.

While this study didn't support the efficacy of statin augmentation of risperidone in schizophrenia, patients who are on a statin along with risperidone may need to have the risperidone dose increased to maintain its therapeutic effect.

Could Cholesterol Drugs Help Treat Schizophrenia?
Could Cholesterol Drugs Help Treat Schizophrenia?

While statins target many of the pathways to neuroprogression in schizophrenia, the safety and efficacy of statins for treating schizophrenia has never been examined.

This is an 8-week randomized double blind controlled clinical trial examining the efficacy and safety of adjunctive lovastatin (20 mg/day) treatment or placebo for people with schizophrenia. The baseline characteristics of the two groups were not different. Endpoint changes in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total and subscale scores did not differ between the two groups.

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