Hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors induce apoptosis in human cardiac myocytes in vitro.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Apr 28;71(9):1324-30. Epub 2006 Mar 15. PMID: 16540096
Department of Internal Medicine II, Medical University Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, and 3rd Medical Department for Cardiology and Emergency Medicine, Wilhelminenspital, Vienna, Austria.
Recent findings have implicated hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors or statins, an established class of drugs for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, in tissue remodeling in the heart. Statins induce apoptosis in different cell culture systems including rat neonatal cardiomyocytes. We investigated possible effects of different statins in vitro in human adult cardiac myocytes on the expression of proteins thought to be involved in the regulation of apoptosis such as Mcl-1, an inhibitor of apoptosis, Bax, an inducer of apoptosis, as well as on cytoplasmic histone-associated-DNA-fragments. Human adult cardiac myocytes (HACM) were treated with different statins at concentrations from 0.01 to 5 microM for up to 96 h. Whereas the lipophilic statin simvastatin at a concentration of 5 microM downregulated Mcl-1 mRNA by 49%, the hydrophilic pravastatin had no effect. Bax mRNA levels were not affected by neither of the statins. Simvastatin but not pravastatin reduced Mcl-1 protein expression whereas Bax protein was not detectable in HACM as determined by Western blotting. Simvastatin, atorvastatin and fluvastatin induced an up to seven-fold increase in histone-associated-DNA-fragments whereas pravastatin did not. Simvastatin up regulated histone-associated-DNA-fragments dose-dependently, and mevalonate and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate reversed this effect to control levels. Our results show that lipophilic statins can induce a pro-apoptotic state in human adult cardiac myocytes in vitro. We speculate that, similar to findings in animal models, statins might be involved in the attenuation of cardiac hypertrophy and remodeling in humans by modulating the balance between cell survival and apoptosis.