Atorvastatin Inhibits Myocardin Expression in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
Atorvastatin (ATV), an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase, is widely prescribed as a lipid-lowering drug. It also inhibits the RhoA-Rho–associated kinase pathway in vascular smooth muscle (SM) cells and critically inhibits SM function. Myocardin is a coactivator of serum response factor, which upregulates SM contractile proteins. The RhoA-Rho–associated kinase pathway, which directly triggers SM contraction, also increases myocardin gene expression. Therefore, we investigated whether ATV inhibits myocardin gene expression in SM cells. In mice injected with ATV (IP 20 μg/g per day) for 5 days, myocardin gene expression was significantly downregulated in aortic and carotid arterial tissues with decreased expression of myocardin target genes SM α-actin and SM22. Correspondingly, the contractility of aortic rings in mice treated with ATV or the Rho–associated kinase inhibitor Y-27632 was reduced in response to treatment with either KCl or phenylephrine. In cultured mouse and human aortic SM cells, KCl treatment stimulated the expression of myocardin, SM α-actin, and SM22. These stimulatory effects were prevented by ATV treatment. ATV-induced inhibition of myocardin expression was prevented by pretreatment with either mevalonate or geranylgeranylpyrophosphate but not farnesylpyrophosphate. Treatment with Y-27632 mimicked ATV effects on the gene expression of myocardin, SM α-actin, and SM22, further suggesting a role for the RhoA-Rho–associated kinase pathway in ATV effects. Furthermore, ATV treatment inhibited RhoA membrane translocation and activation; these effects were prevented by pretreatment with mevalonate. We conclude that ATV inhibits myocardin gene expression in vivo and in vitro, suggesting a novel mechanism for ATV inhibition of vascular contraction.
- Received March 19, 2012.
- Revision received March 25, 2012.
- Accepted April 20, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.