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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998 Nov;18(11):1671-8.

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors reduce MMP-9 secretion by macrophages.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan and the Institute of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy, University of Parma, Italy.


-Macrophages secrete matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that may weaken the fibrous cap of atherosclerotic plaque, predisposing its fissuration. The 92-kDa gelatinase B (MMP-9) has been identified in abdominal aortic aneurysms and in atherosclerotic tissues. Fluvastatin, through the inhibition of the isoprenoid pathway, inhibits major processes of atherogenesis in experimental models (smooth muscle cell migration and proliferation and cholesterol accumulation in macrophages). We studied the effect of fluvastatin on the activity of MMP-9 in mouse and human macrophages in culture. Conditioned media of cells treated for 24 hours with fluvastatin were analyzed by gelatin zymography. In mouse macrophages, fluvastatin (5 to 100 micromol/L) significantly inhibited in a dose-dependent manner MMP-9 activity from 20% to 40% versus control. The drug, at a concentration as low as 5 micromol/L, inhibited MMP-9 activity ( approximately 30%) in human monocyte-derived macrophages as well. Phorbol esters (TPA, 50 ng/mL) stimulated MMP-9 activity by 50%, and fluvastatin inhibited this enhanced activity up to 50% in both mouse and human macrophages. The above results on the secretion of MMP-9 were confirmed by Western blotting and ELISA. The inhibitory effect of fluvastatin was overcome by the simultaneous addition of exogenous mevalonate (100 micromol/L), a precursor of isoprenoids. Fluvastatin's effect was fully reversible, and the drug did not cause any cellular toxicity. The statin did not block directly the in vitro activation of the secreted protease. Similar data were obtained with simvastatin. Altogether, our data indicate an inhibition of MMP-9 secretion by the drug. This effect is mediated by the inhibition of synthesis of mevalonate, a precursor of numerous derivatives essential for several cellular functions.

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