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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Jan;17(1):88-94. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0531.

Statin induces apoptosis and cell growth arrest in prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Statins are a class of low molecular weight drugs that inhibit the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase. Statins have been approved and effectively used to control hypercholesterolemia in clinical setting. Recent study showed statin's antitumor activity and suggested a potential role for prevention of human cancers. In this study, we did cell viability, DNA fragmentation, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling assays to evaluate the action of statins on prostate cancer cells and used Western blotting and RhoA activation assay to investigate the underlying molecular mechanism of action. Our data showed that lovastatin and simvastatin effectively decreased cell viability in three prostate cancer cell lines (PC3, DU145, and LnCap) by inducing apoptosis and cell growth arrest at G(1) phase. Both lovastatin and simvastatin induced activation of caspase-8, caspase-3, and, to a lesser extent, caspase-9. Both statins suppressed expression of Rb, phosphorylated Rb, cyclin D1, cyclin D3, CDK4, and CDK6, but induced p21 and p27 expression in prostate cancer cells. Furthermore, lovastatin and simvastatin suppressed RhoA activation and c-JUN expression, but not cyclooxygenase-2 expression. Our data showed that the antitumor activity of statins is due to induction of apoptosis and cell growth arrest. The underlying molecular mechanism of statin's action is mediated through inactivation of RhoA, which in turn induces caspase enzymatic activity and/or G(1) cell cycle. Future studies should focus on examining statins and other apoptosis-inducing drugs (e.g., cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors or curcumin) together to assess their efficacy in prevention of prostate cancer.

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