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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Dec 17;325(3):871-6.

Rosuvastatin upregulates the antioxidant defense protein heme oxygenase-1.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxiciology, School of Pharmacy, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany.


Cholesterol-independent, pleiotropic actions of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) lead to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions by as yet unidentified mechanisms. This study explores the role of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) as target and potential mediator of rosuvastatin. In cultured human endothelial cells (ECV 304), rosuvastatin increased HO-1 mRNA and protein levels in a concentration-dependent fashion. HO-1 induction by rosuvastatin remained unaffected by mevalonate and N-nitro-L-arginine-methylester, showing that isoprenoid- and NO-dependent pathways were not involved. Pretreatment of endothelial cells with rosuvastatin reduced NADPH-dependent production of oxygen radicals. The HO-1 metabolite bilirubin, when added exogenously to the cells, virtually abolished NADPH-dependent oxidative stress. Rosuvastatin-induced inhibition of free radical formation was rescued in the presence of the HO inhibitor, tin protoporphyrin-IX. Our results demonstrate that HO-1 is a target site and antioxidant mediator of rosuvastatin in endothelial cells. This novel pathway may contribute to and partially explain the pleiotropic antiatherogenic actions of rosuvastatin.

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