Lovastatin, a cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitor, inhibits the growth of human H-ras oncogene transformed cells in nude mice

Cancer Commun. 1991 May;3(5):141-7. doi: 10.3727/095535491820873371.


Post-translational modification of oncogenic p21ras proteins with farnesyl, a lipid intermediate in cholesterol biosynthesis, is required for p21ras membrane association and for the ability of p21ras to transform cultured cells. We have tested the ability of lovastatin, a specific inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis, to inhibit the growth of ras oncogene-transformed cells in vivo. Balb/c mouse 3T3 cells, transfected with H-ras oncogene from human EJ bladder carcinoma, were highly tumorigenic in nude mice. Immunoprecipitation studies with transformed EJ cells showed that lovastatin (1-100 microM) inhibited p21ras membrane association in a concentration-dependent manner and that a 10 microM concentration reduced the amount of p21ras bound to the membrane by 50%. Lovastatin also inhibited EJ cell growth in a concentration range that closely paralleled that required for inhibition of p21ras membrane association. Treatment of nude mice bearing subcutaneous (s.c.) EJ tumors with lovastatin (50 mg/kg) significantly inhibited the abilities of these tumors to grow as early as four days and, by day 12, the lovastatin treated group of animals had tumors with an average size that was 3-fold smaller than those in the saline treated group. Western blotting studies showed that lovastatin (50 mg/kg) was also able to inhibit p21ras membrane association in EJ tumors implanted s.c. in nude mice. These results demonstrate that lovastatin, an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis, inhibited in vivo tumor growth of H-ras oncogene transformed cells. The results also suggest that inhibition of p21ras membrane association, an essential step in ras oncogene neoplastic transformation, is one mechanism by which lovastatin may express its antitumor activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Genes, ras / drug effects*
  • Lovastatin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / genetics
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras) / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*


  • Lovastatin
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras)