Author(s): Parker RA, Huang Q, Tesfamariam B
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Abstract HMGCoA reductase inhibitors (statins) can have effects outside the target tissue, liver, including serious side-effects such as rhabdomyolysis as well as beneficial pleiotrophic effects. One such effect is upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (e-NOS) which generally leads to vasorelaxation. However, changing the balance between localized NO and O(2-) fluxes can also lead to oxidant stress and cellular injury through formation of reactive secondary oxidants such as peroxynitrite. We compared different statins for e-NOS subcellular localization, formation of pro-oxidants, and endothelial-dependent vascular function. Vascular relaxation in aortas of statin-dosed rats was inhibited with simvastatin (sevenfold higher EC50 for acetyl-choline induced relaxation) and atorvastatin (twofold increase) but not pravastatin. Ex vivo oxidation of the fluorescent redox probe dihydrorhodamine-123 (DHR-123) was increased in aortas from simvastatin treated rats, indicating increased reactive nitrogen and oxygen species. Human aortic endothelial cells incubated with simvastatin exhibited up to threefold higher intracellular oxidation of DHR-123 along with a twofold increase in total e-NOS protein. The elevated e-NOS was found in the Golgi/mitochondrial fraction and not in the plasma membrane, and using immunofluorescence greater e-NOS was observed proximal to Golgi and cytoskeletal structures and away from plasma membrane in simvastatin-treated cells. The data suggest that the action of lipophilic statins in endothelium can shift e-NOS localization towards intracellular domains, thereby increasing the encounter with metabolically generated O(2-) to produce peroxynitrite and related oxidants. Thus, under some conditions the direct action of lipophilic HMGCoA reductase inhibitors may unbalance NO and O(2-) fluxes and promote oxidant stress, compromising potentially beneficial vascular effects of e-NOS upregulation and increasing the potential for damage to muscle and other tissues.
This article was published in Atherosclerosis
and referenced in Journal of Bioequivalence & Bioavailability