Potential Reduction in Seizure Frequency With Statin Therapy

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Half of patients experienced a reduction in seizure frequency after statin initiation.

HOUSTON – Statin therapy may help decrease seizure frequency in patients with refractory epilepsy, according to data presented at the 2016 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting.1

Through mouse models and some human studies, statins have been shown to have neuroprotective, antiepileptic properties2-4; however, their effect on seizure frequency is not known.

For this study, Barbara Decker, MD, of the University of Vermont, and colleagues conducted a retrospective chart review of patients aged 18 to 80 with epilepsy who were receiving statin therapy.

Of 234 charts reviewed, 8 patients (3 female) fulfilled study criteria. Five patients had symptomatic epilepsy with focal onset seizures, and 3 patients had idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Age at diagnosis was 1 to 24 years (median = 5 years), and duration of epilepsy prior to statin use was 13 to 59 years (median = 43 years). At the time of statin initiation, patients were taking at least 2 antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

Following statin initiation, 50% of patients experienced a decrease in seizure frequency, 25% experienced no change, and 25% experienced an increase in seizure frequency. Patients who experienced a reduction in seizure frequency tended to be younger at diagnosis (1 to 16 years) and have longer epilepsy duration (35 to 52 years), and were taking 1 to 3 AEDs during the study period. These patients received atorvastatin 20 mg to 40 mg or simvastatin 10 mg to 20 mg. Patients who had no reduction or an increase in seizure frequency were aged 3 to 24 years at time of diagnosis and had an epilepsy duration of 13 to 59 years. Notably, 3 of the 4 patients has symptomatic epilepsy. These patients were using 1 to 3 AEDs during the study period and were prescribed atorvastatin 10 mg or simvastatin 20 mg.

The authors noted several limitations, including the small study population, lack of a control group, and use of retrospective data. Still, the results suggest that statins may play a potential role in treating refractory epilepsy.

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  1. Decker B, Vitorovic D. Effect of statin introduction on seizure frequency in epilepsy patients. Presented at: 2016 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting; December 2-6, 2016; Houston, TX. Abstract 1.189.
  2. Guo J, Guo J, Li J, et al. Statin treatment reduces the risk of poststroke seizures. Neurology. 2015;85(8):701-707.
  3. Scicchitano F, Constanti A, Citraro R, De Sarro G, Russo E. Statins and epilepsy: preclinical studies, clinical trials and statin-anticonvulsant drug interactions. Curr Drug Targets. 2015;16(7):747-756.
  4. Citraro R, Chimirri S, Aiello R, et al. Protective effects of some statins on epileptogenesis and depressive-like behavior in WAG/Rij rats, a genetic animal model of absence epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2014;55(8):1284-1291.