Effect of simvastatin on cholesterol metabolism in C2C12 myotubes and HepG2 cells, and consequences for statin-induced myopathy.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Apr 15 ;79(8):1200-9. Epub 2009 Dec 14. PMID: 20018177
Department of Research, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org
The mechanism of statin-induced skeletal muscle myopathy is poorly understood. We investigated how simvastatin affects cholesterol metabolism, ubiquinone levels, and the prenylation and N-linked glycosylation of proteins in C2C12 myotubes. We used liver HepG2 cells for comparison, as their responses to statins are well-characterized in terms of their cholesterol metabolism (in contrast to muscle cells), and statins are well-tolerated in the liver. Differences between the two cell lines could indicate the mechanism behind statin-induced myopathy. Simvastatin reduced de novo cholesterol production in C2C12 myotubes by 95% after 18h treatment. The reduction was 82% in the HepG2 cells. Total cholesterol pools, however, remained constant in both cell lines. Simvastatin treatment similarly did not affect total ubiquinone levels in the myotubes, unlike in HepG2 cells (22% reduction in CoQ10). Statin treatment reduced levels of Ras and Rap1 prenylation in both cell lines, whereas N-linked glycosylation was only affected in C2C12 myotubes (21% reduction in rate). From these observations, we conclude that total cholesterol and ubiquinone levels are unlikely to be involved in statin-mediated myopathy, but reductions in protein prenylation and especially N-linked glycosylation may play a role. This first comparison of the responses to simvastatin between liver and skeletal muscle cell lines may be important for future research directions concerning statin-induced myopathy.