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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2014 Feb;50(2):328-36. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0058OC.

Role of claudin-5 in the attenuation of murine acute lung injury by simvastatin.

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Institute for Personalized Respiratory Medicine, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep, and Allergy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


The statins are now recognized to have pleiotropic properties, including augmentation of endothelial barrier function. To explore the mechanisms involved, we investigated the effect of simvastatin on endothelial cell (EC) tight junctions. Western blotting of human pulmonary artery ECs treated with simvastatin (5 μM) confirmed a significant time-dependent increase (16-48 h) in claudin-5 protein expression compared with controls, without detectable alterations in zonula occludens-1 or occludin. These effects were associated with membrane translocation of VE-cadherin, whereas translocation of vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin; silencing RNA) inhibited simvastatin-induced claudin-5 up-regulation. Moreover, simvastatin treatment of ECs induced increased phosphorylation of both FoxO1 and β-catenin, transcriptional regulators of claudin-5 expression mediated by VE-cadherin. Subsequently, we found no effect of claudin-5 silencing on EC barrier protection by simvastatin in response to thrombin stimulation, as measured by either transendothelial electrical resistance or by EC monolayer flux of FITC-dextran (2,000 kD). However, silencing of claudin-5 did significantly attenuate simvastatin-mediated EC barrier protection in response to thrombin, as measured by monolayer flux of sodium fluorescein (376 Da). Finally, employing a murine model of LPS-induced acute lung injury, there was no effect of claudin-5 silencing in vivo (intratracheal injection) on bronchoalveolar lavage fluid protein or cell counts, but LPS-induced lung tissue extravasation of the small molecular weight markers, sodium fluorescein and Hochst stain (562 Da), were significantly increased in claudin-5-silenced animals compared with simvastatin-treated control animals. These findings implicate a distinct mechanism underlying size-selective endothelial barrier-protective properties of statins, and may ultimately lead to new novel therapeutic targets for patients with acute lung injury.

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