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Exp Mol Med. 2012 Feb 29;44(2):159-66. doi: 10.3858/emm.2012.44.2.011.

Simvastatin inhibits sphingosylphosphorylcholine-induced differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells into smooth muscle cells.

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Medical Research Center for Ischemic Tissue Regeneration, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-770, Korea.


Sphingosylphosphorylcholine (SPC) induces differentiation of human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hASCs) into smooth muscle-like cells expressing α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) via transforming growth factor-β1/Smad2- and RhoA/Rho kinase-dependent mechanisms. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl- coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) have been known to have beneficial effects in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In the present study, we examined the effects of simvastatin on the SPC-induced α-SMA expression and Smad2 phosphorylation in hASCs. Simvastatin inhibited the SPC-induced α-SMA expression and sustained phosphorylation of Smad2 in hASCs. SPC treatment caused RhoA activation via a simvastatin-sensitive mechanism. The SPC-induced α-SMA expression and Smad2 phosphorylation were abrogated by pretreatment of the cells with the Rho kinase inhibitor Y27632 or overexpression of a dominant negative RhoA mutant. Furthermore, SPC induced secretion of TGF-β1 and pretreatment with either Y27632 or simvastatin inhibited the SPC-induced TGF-β1 secretion. These results suggest that simvastatin inhibits SPC-induced differentiation of hASCs into smooth muscle cells by attenuating the RhoA/Rho kinase-dependent activation of autocrine TGF-β1/Smad2 signaling pathway.

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