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Exp Cell Res. 2012 Aug 15;318(14):1673-84. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.05.009. Epub 2012 May 30.

Atorvastatin preserves the integrity of endothelial adherens junctions by inhibiting vascular endothelial cadherin tyrosine phosphorylation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiology, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.


Vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cad) tyrosine (Tyr) phosphorylation has been implicated in the disruption of adherens junctions (AJs) induced by inflammatory reactions. The impacts of statins on integrity of AJs and VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation have not been explored. The effects of atorvastatin on IL-1β and monocyte-induced VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (ECs) were studied. In ECs treated with interleukin (IL)-1β for 30 min, VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation, dissociation of the VE-cad/β-catenin complex and transendothelial migration (TEM) of monocytes were increased. These processes were mediated by activation of HRas and RhoA that leads to phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC). Atorvastatin inhibited IL-1β-induced Tyr phosphorylation of VE-cad by inhibiting RhoA and by dephosphorylating MLC. The attenuating effect of atorvastatin on VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation was reversed when RhoA was activated or MLC phosphatase was inhibited. Furthermore, inhibiting farnesyl transferase or geranylgeranyl transferase reproduced the inhibitory effects of atorvastatin on VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation. In addition, atorvastatin inhibited monocyte-induced VE-cad Tyr phosphorylation in ECs and attenuated IL-1β-induced TEM of monocytes. Our study introduces a novel pleiotropic effect of atorvastatin and suggests that statins protect the integrity of AJs in ECs by inhibiting RhoA-mediated Tyr phosphorylation of VE-cad.

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