Simvastatin inhibits renal cancer cell growth and metastasis via AKT/mTOR, ERK and JAK2/STAT3 pathway

PLoS One. 2013 May 17;8(5):e62823. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062823. Print 2013.


Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most lethal type of genitourinary cancer due to its occult onset and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. Recently, accumulating evidence has suggested stains, inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl glutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, were associated with the risk reduction of cancer. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the potential effects of simvastatin on RCC cells and the underlying mechanisms by which simvastatin exerted its actions. With cell viability, colony formation, and flow cytometric apoptosis assays, we found that simvastatin potently suppressed cell growth of A498 and 786-O cells in a time- and dose- dependent manner. Consistently, the xenograft model performed in nude mice exhibited reduced tumor growth with simvastatin treatment. In addition, the inhibitory effects of simvastatin on migration and invasion were also observed in vitro. Mechanically, we presented that simvastatin could suppress the proliferation and motility of RCC cells via inhibiting the phosphorylation of AKT, mTOR, and ERK in a time- and dose- dependent manner. Further investigation of the underlying mechanism revealed simvastatin could exert the anti-tumor effects by suppressing IL-6-induced phosphorylation of JAK2 and STAT3. In conclusion, these findings suggested that simvastatin-induced apoptosis and its anti-metastasis activity in RCC cells were accompanied by inhibition of AKT/mTOR, ERK, and JAK2/STAT3 pathways, which imply that simvastatin may be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of RCC patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / physiopathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Janus Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / prevention & control*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • RNA Interference
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Simvastatin / pharmacology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Simvastatin
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases

Grant support

This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81172435). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.