Interdisciplinary Bio Central
Hypothesis/Idea (Pharmaceutical bioscience and technology)

Cholesterol, Statins, and Brain Function: A Hypothesis from a Molecular Perspective
Yeon-Kyun Shin1,*
1Integrative Bioscience and Biotechnology, POSTECH, Pohang, Korea 790-784, and Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50014
*Corresponding author
  Received : March 24, 2009
  Accepted : March 27, 2009
  Published : March 30, 2009
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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There is evidence that cholesterol in the brain plays an important role in the neurotransmitter release. A decrease of the cholesterol level severely hampers the activity of the membrane fusion machinery, thereby inhibiting the release. Meanwhile, the results from several clinical studies suggest that a low cholesterol level is linked to the dysfunction of some brain activities. Because the neurotransmitter release underlies the basic brain function, the combined results lead to a testable hypothesis that the cholesterol-lowering drugs may inhibit the neurotransmitter release at the synapse. Such inhibition of the release could result in impaired brain function for a limited group of people. A molecular basis for the hypothesis is discussed.

Keyword: Neurotransmitter release, SNARE, membrane fusion, synapse, raft
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