Cardiovascular research

Statins normalize vascular lysyl oxidase down-regulation induced by proatherogenic risk factors.

PMID 19406911


Statins are lipid-lowering drugs widely used in the management of vascular diseases. Clinical and experimental evidence suggest that statins improve endothelial function by both cholesterol-lowering-dependent and -independent mechanisms. We have previously shown that endothelial dysfunction induced by risk factors and proinflammatory cytokines is associated with down-regulation of lysyl oxidase (LOX), a key enzyme modulating extracellular matrix maturation and vascular integrity. Our aim was to analyse whether statins could normalize LOX expression impaired by proatherogenic risk factors. We observed that pharmacological concentrations of statins (atorvastatin and simvastatin) modulated LOX transcriptional activity, counteracting the down-regulation of LOX (at the mRNA, protein, and activity level) caused by tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) in porcine, bovine, and human aortic endothelial cells. Geranylgeraniol but not farnesol reversed this effect, suggesting the involvement of geranylgeranylated proteins. In accordance, inhibitors of RhoA/Rho kinase also counteracted LOX down-regulation caused by TNFalpha, and over-expression of a RhoA dominant-negative mutant mimicked statin effects. Statins were also able to counteract the decrease in LOX expression produced by atherogenic concentrations of LDL by a similar mechanism and to partially prevent the increase in endothelial permeability elicited by these lipoproteins. Finally, in the in vivo porcine model of hypercholesterolaemia, we observed that statins abrogated the reduction of vascular LOX expression triggered by high plasma levels of LDL. These data indicate that statins normalize vascular LOX expression altered by atherogenic risk factors through a RhoA/Rho kinase-dependent mechanism. Thus, modulation of LOX by statins could contribute to vascular protection and to the cardiovascular risk reduction achieved by this therapy.

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Geranylgeraniol, ≥85% (GC)