3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) exert pleiotropic effects on the cardiovascular system, in part through a decrease in reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and reduction of vascular inflammation. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in these effects, we investigated the effect of statins on TNF-α-induced ROS production, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). Exposure of HAECs to TNF-α caused production of ROS via Rac-1 membrane translocation and activation. The Rac-1 activation and ROS liberation mediated TNF-stimulated NF-κB activation and the subsequent VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression. Extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) plays a central role in inhibiting endothelial inflammation. Immune complex kinase assay of protein extracts from HAECs treated with atorvastatin revealed increased ERK5 activity in a time- and dose-dependent manner. In addition, pretreatment with atorvastatin inhibited TNF-α-induced ROS production and VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression. Chemical or genetic inhibition of ERK5 ablated the statins inhibition of Rac-1 activation, ROS formation, NF-κB, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression induced by TNF-α. Taken together, statins, via ERK5 activation, suppress TNF-stimulated Rac-1 activation, ROS generation, NF-κB activation and VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression in human ECs, which provides a novel explanation for the pleiotropic effects of statins that benefit the cardiovascular system.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.