HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) increase endothelial progenitor cells via the PI 3-kinase/Akt pathway

J Clin Invest. 2001 Aug;108(3):391-7. doi: 10.1172/JCI13152.

Abstract

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) have been developed as lipid-lowering drugs and are well established to reduce morbidity and mortality from coronary artery disease. Here we demonstrate that statins potently augment endothelial progenitor cell differentiation in mononuclear cells and CD34-positive hematopoietic stem cells isolated from peripheral blood. Moreover, treatment of mice with statins increased c-kit(+)/Sca-1(+)--positive hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow and further elevated the number of differentiated endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Statins induce EPC differentiation via the PI 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) pathway as demonstrated by the inhibitory effect of pharmacological PI3K blockers or overexpression of a dominant negative Akt construct. Similarly, the potent angiogenic growth factor VEGF requires Akt to augment EPC numbers, suggesting an essential role for Akt in regulating hematopoietic progenitor cell differentiation. Given that statins are at least as potent as VEGF in increasing EPC differentiation, augmentation of circulating EPC might importantly contribute to the well-established beneficial effects of statins in patients with coronary artery disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coronary Disease / drug therapy
  • Coronary Disease / pathology
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lymphokines / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors

Substances

  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Lymphokines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt