Impact of statins on cellular respiration and de-differentiation of myofibroblasts in human failing hearts


Center for Integrative Research on Cardiovascular Aging, St. Luke's Medical Center, Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Center for Advanced Atrial Fibrillation Therapies, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke's Medical Centers


AIMS: Fibroblast to myofibroblast trans-differentiation with altered bioenergetics precedes cardiac fibrosis (CF). Either prevention of differentiation or promotion of de-differentiation could mitigate CF-related pathologies. We determined whether 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors-statins, commonly prescribed to patients at risk of heart failure (HF)-can de-differentiate myofibroblasts, alter cellular bioenergetics, and impact the human ventricular fibroblasts (hVFs) in HF patients.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Either in vitro statin treatment of differentiated myofibroblasts (n = 3-6) or hVFs, isolated from human HF patients under statin therapy (HF + statin) vs. without statins (HF) were randomly used (n = 4-12). In vitro, hVFs were differentiated by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) for 72 h (TGF-72 h). Differentiation status and cellular oxygen consumption rate (OCR) were determined by α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression and Seahorse assay, respectively. Data are mean ± SEM except Seahorse (mean ± SD); P < 0.05, considered significant. In vitro, statins concentration-dependently de-differentiated the myofibroblasts. The respective half-maximal effective concentrations were 729 ± 13 nmol/L (atorvastatin), 3.6 ± 1 μmol/L (rosuvastatin), and 185 ± 13 nmol/L (simvastatin). Mevalonic acid (300 μmol/L), the reduced product of HMG-CoA, prevented the statin-induced de-differentiation (α-SMA expression: 31.4 ± 10% vs. 58.6 ± 12%). Geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP, 20 μmol/L), a cholesterol synthesis-independent HMG-CoA reductase pathway intermediate, completely prevented the statin-induced de-differentiation (α-SMA/GAPDH ratios: 0.89 ± 0.05 [TGF-72 h + 72 h], 0.63 ± 0.02 [TGF-72 h + simvastatin], and 1.2 ± 0.08 [TGF-72 h + simvastatin + GGPP]). Cellular metabolism involvement was observed when co-incubation of simvastatin (200 nmol/L) with glibenclamide (10 μmol/L), a K

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the de-differentiating effect of statins, the underlying GGPP sensitivity, reduced OCR with potential activation of K

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