The cholesterol lowering drug lovastatin induces cell death in myeloma plasma cells

Leukemia. 2002 Jul;16(7):1362-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2402501.


Lovastatin is an irreversible inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase and blocks the production of mevalonate, a critical compound in the production of cholesterol and isoprenoids. Isoprenylation of target proteins, like the GTP-binding protein Ras, is essential for their membrane localization and subsequent participation in intracellular signaling cascades. Lovastatin effectively decreased the viability of plasma cells from cell lines (n = 10) and myeloma patients' samples (n = 8) in a dose- and time-dependent way. Importantly, co-incubation of lovastatin with dexamethasone had a synergistic effect in inducing plasma cell cytotoxity. This effect was not the consequence of a change in the protein expression levels of Bcl-2 or Bax induced by lovastatin. The decrease in plasma cell viability was the result of induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation. Mevalonate effectively reversed the cytotoxic and cytostatic effects of lovastatin in plasma cells. The cytotoxic activity of lovastatin was higher in Pgp expressing cell lines, but did not correlate with the multidrug resistance (MDR)-related proteins LRP, Bcl-2 and Bax. Lovastatin treatment resulted in a shift of Ras localization from the membrane to the cytosol that was reversed by mevalonate. The data presented in this paper warrant study of lovastatin alone or in combination with therapeutic drugs, in the treatment of myeloma patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lovastatin / pharmacology*
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use
  • Plasmacytoma / drug therapy*
  • Plasmacytoma / metabolism
  • Plasmacytoma / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAX protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Lovastatin