Simvastatin Therapy Attenuates Memory Deficits that Associate with Brain Monocyte Infiltration in Chronic Hypercholesterolemia
Evidence associates cardiovascular risk factors with unfavorable systemic and neuro-inflammation and cognitive decline in the elderly. Cardiovascular therapeutics (e.g., statins and anti-hypertensives) possess immune-modulatory functions in parallel to their cholesterol- or blood pressure (BP)-lowering properties. How their ability to modify immune responses affects cognitive function is unknown. Here, we examined the effect of chronic hypercholesterolemia on inflammation and memory function in Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) knockout mice and normocholesterolemic wild-type mice. Chronic hypercholesterolemia that was accompanied by moderate blood pressure elevations associated with apparent immune system activation characterized by increases in circulating pro-inflammatory Ly6Chi monocytes in ApoE-/- mice. The persistent low-grade immune activation that is associated with chronic hypercholesterolemia facilitates the infiltration of pro-inflammatory Ly6Chi monocytes into the brain of aged ApoE-/- but not wild-type mice, and links to memory dysfunction. Therapeutic cholesterol-lowering through simvastatin reduced systemic and neuro-inflammation, and the occurrence of memory deficits in aged ApoE-/- mice with chronic hypercholesterolemia. BP-lowering therapy alone (i.e., hydralazine) attenuated some neuro-inflammatory signatures but not the occurrence of memory deficits. Our study suggests a link between chronic hypercholesterolemia, myeloid cell activation and neuro-inflammation with memory impairment and encourages cholesterol-lowering therapy as safe strategy to control hypercholesterolemia-associated memory decline during ageing.