Abstract Title:

Mevastatin accelerates loss of synaptic proteins and neurite degeneration in aging cortical neurons in a heme-independent manner.

Abstract Source:

Neurobiol Aging. 2010 Sep ;31(9):1543-53. Epub 2008 Oct 31. PMID: 18951667

Abstract Author(s):

Madhuvanthi Kannan, Joern R Steinert, Ian D Forsythe, Andrew G Smith, Tatyana Chernova

Article Affiliation:

MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom.


The therapeutic use of statins in reducing cholesterol requires careful assessment of potential neuroprotective and/or neurotoxic mechanisms. Chronic treatment with mevastatin (MV) exerts effects on cortical neuron morphology, protein expression and synaptic function in primary culture. MV impaired expression of synaptic proteins, reduced N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) currents and accelerated neurodegeneration associated with aging. The down-regulating effect of MV on neuronal protein expression was additive with aging-associated decline in culture. Induction of Heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX1) by MV was superimposed on age-related up-regulation. Comparison of MV-treated and heme-deficient neurons showed that inhibition of heme synthesis (by succinyl acetone) had similar damaging effect on neurite integrity and MNDAR expression and function but not on expression of the receptor for neuropeptide Y1 (NPY1R). Replacement of heme in heme-deficient cultures restored protein expression but had no effect in those cultures co-treated with MV. Despite the dramatic induction of HMOX1, intracellular heme remained sufficient in MV-treated cultures, consistent with a heme-independent mechanism of MV-induced neurotoxicity and this was confirmed by analysing neurons with lentiviral over-expression of HMOX1. We conclude that MV exerts a neurotoxic effect in cultured neurons in a heme-independent manner.

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