OUP user menu

Statins inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in human endothelial cells: anti-angiogenic actions possibly contributing to plaque stability

Marika Massaro, Antonella Zampolli, Egeria Scoditti, Maria Annunziata Carluccio, Carlo Storelli, Alessandro Distante, Raffaele De Caterina
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvp375 311-320 First published online: 27 November 2009


Aims Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression is increased in inflammation and angiogenesis and also in atherosclerotic plaques, where it co-localizes with metalloproteinases (MMPs) involved in the fibrous cap weakening. Insight into the regulation of COX-2 and MMP-9 expression suggests the involvement of a Rho-dependent pathway. Because statins interfere with Rho activation, we investigated the statin effect on COX-2 and MMP expressions in the human endothelium.

Methods and results Simvastatin and atorvastatin were incubated with endothelial cells for 12 h before stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate or tumour necrosis factor-α, for times suitable to assess the endothelial tube differentiation on Matrigel and COX-2 and MMPs activities, proteins, and mRNA expressions. At 0.1–10 µmol/L, both statins reduced COX-2 expression and activity, without affecting COX-1. The statin effect was reversed by mevalonate and geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate and mimicked by the Rho inhibitor C3 transferase, indicating the involvement of Rho in the signal transduction pathway leading to COX-2 expression. In parallel, statins, as well as COX-2 inhibitors, reduced the MMP-9 stimulated release and the endothelial tubular differentiation.

Conclusion In the human vascular endothelium, statins reduce COX-2 and MMP-9 expression and activity. Through this mechanism, statins exert an anti-angiogenic effect possibly contributing to the cholesterol-lowering-unrelated protective effects of statins against plaque inflammatory angiogenesis and rupture.

  • Statins
  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Metalloproteinases
  • Angiogenesis
  • Atherosclerosis
    View Full Text