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Prolonged use of Anti cholesterol drugs may result in behavioral disorders

Popping anti cholesterol drugs may help controlling cholesterol levels but can lead to anxiety and depression, claims a new study. This category of drugs popularly known as Statins help by depleting plasma cholesterol level.

The prolonged use of these drugs can cause depression to a level where patients can develop suicidal tendencies. The study was carried out by Indian Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). The study has been published in the journal 'Biochemistry' by the American Chemical Society.

Statins work by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in the formation of cholesterol. By use of these drugs, the cholesterol that is formed as a natural product of the liver is reduced. By inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme, the ability of the liver to produce LDL is reduced. This in turn increases the amount of LDL receptors on the liver surface causing cholesterol removal from the bloodstream and subsequently protection against high-cholesterol related diseases such as hypercholesterolemia.

During the course of a study a correlation between Statins and mood disorders was established. It was found that Statins affected the dynamics of serotonin, a neuro transmitter which is known to control behavioral and physiological functions such as sleep, emotion and appetite. Changes in the structure and function of the serotonin receptors were observed on prolonged usage of Statins.

It was observed that long term usage of Statins resulted in changes to the specific ligand binding and G-protein coupling in Serotonin. The original properties of the neurotransmitter were restored when the Statin treated cells were treated with Cholesterol.

There is a silver lining to the study as researchers however pointed out that this was not a widespread effect and could be observed in mere 10 to 20 percent of the people. Those affected may be genetically prone to such side effects as well. Statins continue to be wonder drugs capable of lowering LDL levels from 18% - 55%. They also play a crucial rule in preventing first heart attacks and coronary diseases. No wonder that Statins continue to be highest selling drugs with an estimated global sale of $25 billion.

The study could help look towards a possibility of using combination drugs in future.