Statin-induced breast cancer cell death: role of inducible nitric oxide and arginase-dependent pathways

Srigiridhar Kotamraju, Carol L Williams, Carol L Willams, Balaraman Kalyanaraman
Cancer Research 2007 August 1, 67 (15): 7386-94
Statins are widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs that selectively inhibit the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase, leading to decreased cholesterol biosynthesis. Emerging data indicate that statins stimulate apoptotic cell death in several types of proliferating tumor cells, including breast cancer cells, which is independent of its cholesterol-lowering property. The objective here was to elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) by which statins induce breast cancer cell death. Fluvastatin and simvastatin (5-10 mumol/L) treatment enhanced the caspase-3-like activity and DNA fragmentation in MCF-7 cells, and significantly inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 cells but not MCF-10 cells (noncancerous epithelial cells). Statin-induced cytotoxic effects were reversed by mevalonate, an immediate metabolic product of the acetyl CoA/3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase reaction. Both simvastatin and fluvastatin enhanced nitric oxide ((.)NO) levels which were inhibited by mevalonate. Statin-induced (.)NO and tumor cell cytotoxicity were inhibited by 1400W, a more specific inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS or NOS II). Both fluvastatin and simvastatin increased iNOS mRNA and protein expression. Stimulation of iNOS by statins via inhibition of geranylgeranylation by GGTI-298, but not via inhibition of farnesylation by FTI-277, enhanced the proapoptotic effects of statins in MCF-7 cells. Statin-mediated antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects were exacerbated by sepiapterin, a precursor of tetrahydrobiopterin, an essential cofactor of (.)NO biosynthesis by NOS. We conclude that iNOS-mediated (.)NO is responsible in part for the proapoptotic, tumoricidal, and antiproliferative effects of statins in MCF-7 cells.

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