Intravenous Administration of Simvastatin Improves Cognitive Outcome following Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats

Andrea Mountney*, Angela M. Boutté, Janice Gilsdorf, Xi Chun Lu, Frank C. Tortella, Deborah A. Shear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Simvastatin is a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor commonly used to reduce serum cholesterol. The beneficial effects of oral simvastatin have been reported in pre-clinical models of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The current study was designed to evaluate the potential beneficial effects of simvastatin in a model of severe penetrating TBI using an intravenous (IV) route of administration. Rats were subjected to unilateral frontal penetrating ballistic-like brain injury (PBBI), and simvastatin was delivered intravenously at 30 min and 6 h post-injury and continued once daily for either 4 or 10 days post-PBBI. Motor function was assessed on the rotarod and cognitive performance was evaluated using the Morris water maze (MWM) task. Serum levels of inflammatory cytokines and the astrocytic biomarker, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), were quantified at 1 h, 4 h, and 24 h post-injury. Histopathological damage was assessed at the terminal end-point. Rotarod testing revealed significant motor deficits in all injury groups but no significant simvastatin-induced therapeutic benefits. All PBBI-injured animals showed cognitive impairment on the MWM test; however, 10-day simvastatin treatment mitigated these effects. Animals showed significantly improved latency to platform and retention scores, whereas the 4-day treatment regimen failed to produce any significant improvements. Biomarker and cytokine analysis showed that IV simvastatin significantly reduced GFAP, interleukin (IL)-1α, and IL-17 serum levels by 4.0-, 2.6-, and 7.0-fold, respectively, at 4 h post-injury. Collectively, our results demonstrate that IV simvastatin provides significant protection against injury-induced cognitive dysfunction and reduces TBI-specific biomarker levels. Further research is warranted to identify the optimal dose and therapeutic window for IV delivery of simvastatin in models of severe TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492-1500
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number16
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • antioxidants
  • behavioral assessments
  • biomarkers
  • penetrating ballistic-like brain injury
  • traumatic brain injury


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