Lovastatin potentiates antitumor activity of doxorubicin in murine melanoma via an apoptosis-dependent mechanism

Int J Cancer. 2002 Jul 1;100(1):111-8. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10440.


Lovastatin, a drug successfully used in the clinic to prevent and to treat coronary heart disease, has recently been reported to decrease the incidence of melanoma in lovastatin-treated patients. Lovastatin has also been proved to potentiate antitumor effects of both cisplatin and TNF-alpha in murine melanoma models. Recently, an augmented therapeutic effect of lovastatin and doxorubicin has been reported in 3 tumor models in mice. In our preliminary study lovastatin caused retardation of melanoma growth in mice treated with doxorubicin (Feleszko et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 1998;90:247-8). In the present report, we supplement our preliminary observations and demonstrate in 2 murine and 2 human melanoma cell lines that lovastatin effectively potentiates the cytostatic/cytotoxic activity of doxorubicin in vitro via an augmentation of apoptosis (estimated with PARP-cleavage assay, annexin V assay and TUNEL). The combined antiproliferative activity of lovastatin and doxorubicin was evaluated using the combination index (CI) method of Chou and Talalay, revealing synergistic interactions in melanoma cells exposed to lovastatin and doxorubicin. In B16F10 murine melanoma model in vivo, we have demonstrated significantly increased sensitivity to the combined treatment with both lovastatin (5 mg/kg for 14 days) and doxorubicin (4 x 1 mg/kg) as compared with either agent acting alone. Lovastatin treatment resulted also in significant reduction of the number of experimental metastasis in doxorubicin-treated mice. The results of our studies suggest that lovastatin may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of malignant melanomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Lovastatin / administration & dosage
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / prevention & control
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Doxorubicin
  • Lovastatin