The effect of lovastatin, an inhibitor of 3-hydroxymethyl-3-glutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase, was examined on human vascular smooth muscle cells (HVSMC). Untransformed HVSMC were obtained from saphenous vein and in addition an SV-40 transformed immortalized cell line (HVTs-SM1) derived from saphenous vein smooth muscle was also used. HVTs-SM1 cell proliferation and DNA synthesis were measured, and cell cycle analysis was performed by flow cytometry. Apoptosis in both cell types was assessed by a combination of flow cytometry, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TUNEL) reagent-based immunocytochemistry, DAPI staining, and DNA agarose gel electrophoresis. Lovastatin had no effect on apoptosis of HVSMC over 96 h in serum-free conditions or after stimulation with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-BB), although PDGF-BB increased apoptosis in HVSMC, and this was prevented by lovastatin. In HVTs-SM1 cells lovastatin inhibited cell proliferation and DNA synthesis and induced apoptosis in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. The effects of lovastatin on cell proliferation, DNA synthesis, and apoptosis were prevented by co-incubation with mevalonate and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, but not by farnesyl pyrophosphate. Lovastatin does not induce apoptosis in saphenous vein HVSMC in culture and inhibits PDGF-BB-induced DNA synthesis and apoptosis. In contrast, in SV40 transformed immortalized HVTs-SM1 cells, lovastatin induces apoptosis and inhibits cell proliferation and DNA synthesis. The pro-apoptotic effects of lovastatin in SV40 transformed HVTs-SM1 cells may be related to the enhanced rate of proliferation or deregulation of the cell cycle in this cell line.
- HMG CoA reductase
- Vascular smooth muscle