Simvastatin reduces plasma membrane caveolae and caveolin-1 in uterine leiomyomas

Life Sci. 2022 Jun 12;304:120708. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2022.120708. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Aims: Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, are estrogen dependent benign tumor in women, however, they have limited treatment options. Simvastatin, a drug commonly used to treat high cholesterol. Recently we demonstrated that simvastatin alters estrogen signaling by reducing the expression and trafficking of the estrogen receptor-α (ER-α) in human uterine leiomyoma cells. Caveolae are invaginations of the plasma membrane where ER-α is known to localize and directly interacts with the caveolar protein caveolin-1 (CAV1). This study examines the effects of simvastatin on plasma membrane caveolae and the expression and palmitoylation of CAV1 in human leiomyomas which may influence ER-α signaling.

Main methods: We performed in vitro experiments using primary and immortalized human uterine leiomyoma cells. The caveolae were quantified using transmission electron microscopy. Additionally, we examined the impact of simvastatin treatment (40 mg orally per day for 12 weeks) on human leiomyoma tissue obtained from a randomized controlled trial. The CAV1 protein and mRNA levels were determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reactions, western blotting, and immunofluorescence analyses.

Key findings: Simvastatin decreased the number of caveolae in primary leiomyoma cells and reduced CAV1 abundance in whole cells and remarkably the plasma protein fraction. It also decreased CAV1 palmitoylation, a post-translational modification associated with CAV1 activation. The effects of simvastatin on CAV1 were recapitulated in human leiomyoma tissue samples.

Significance: Our results identify caveolae and CAV1 as novel targets of simvastatin which may contribute to the recently described effects of simvastatin on ER-α signaling and plasma membrane trafficking.

Keywords: Caveolae; Caveolin-1; Simvastatin; Uterine leiomyoma.