Atorvastatin suppresses LPS-induced rapid upregulation of Toll-like receptor 4 and its signaling pathway in endothelial cells

Ying Wang, Ming Xiang Zhang, Xiao Meng, Fu Qiang Liu, Guang Sheng Yu, Cheng Zhang, Tao Sun, Xu Ping Wang, Li Li, Yuan Yuan Wang, Shi Fang Ding, Jian Min Yang, Yun Zhang
American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology 2011, 300 (5): H1743-52
In the present study, we tested our hypothesis that atorvastatin exerts its anti-inflammation effect via suppressing LPS-induced rapid upregulation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) mRNA and its downstream p38, ERK, and NF-κB signaling pathways in human umbilical-vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). TLR4 mRNA expression and its downstream kinase activities induced by LPS alone or atorvastatin + LPS in endothelial cells were quantified using quantitative real-time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Preincubation of LPS-stimulated endothelial cells with TLR4 siRNA was conducted to identify the target of the anti-inflammatory effects of atorvastatin. Atorvastatin incubation resulted in the reduction of LPS-induced TLR4 mRNA expression, ERK1/2 and P38 MAPK phosphorylation, and NF-κB binding activity. Pretreatment with MEK/ERK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 attenuated atorvastatin + LPS-induced NF-κB activity but had no effect on P38 MAPK phosphorylation. In contrast, pretreatment with P38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 resulted in upregulation of atorvastatin + LPS-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation but had no significant effects on NF-κB activity. On the other hand, blocking NF-κB with SN50 produced no effects on atorvastatin + LPS-induced ERK1/2 and P38 MAPK phosphorylation. Moreover, TLR4 gene silencing produced the same effects as the atorvastatin treatment. In conclusion, atorvastatin downregulated TLR4 mRNA expression by two distinct signaling pathways. First, atorvastatin stabilized Iκ-Bα, which directly inhibited NF-κB activation. Second, atorvastatin inactivated ERK phosphorylation, which indirectly inhibited NF-κB activation. Suppression of p38 MAPK by atorvastatin upregulates ERK but exerts no effect on NF-κB.

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