Long-Term Treatment with Simvastatin Leads to Reduced Migration Capacity of Prostate Cancer Cells

Biomedicines. 2022 Dec 22;11(1):29. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines11010029.


Statins have been shown to improve survival of metastatic prostate cancer (mPCa). Nevertheless, their therapeutic use is still under debate. In the present study, we investigated the short-term effects of three different statins (simvastatin, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin) in various PCa cell lines mimicking androgen-sensitive and -insensitive PCa. Moreover, we generated three new PCa cell lines (LNCaPsim, ABLsim, PC-3sim) that were cultured with simvastatin over several months. Our data showed that the three statins expressed highly diverse short-term effects, with the strongest growth-inhibitory effect from simvastatin in PC-3 cells and almost no effect from rosuvastatin in any of the cell lines. Long-term treatment with simvastatin resulted in a loss of response to statins in all three cell lines, which was associated with an upregulation of cholesterol and fatty acid pathways as revealed through RNA sequencing. Despite that, long-term treated cells exhibited diminished spheroid growth and significantly reduced migration capacity per se and to differentiated osteoclasts. These findings were strengthened by reduced expression of genes annotated to cell adhesion and migration after long-term simvastatin treatment. Notably, mPCa patients taking statins were found to have lower numbers of circulating tumor cells in their blood with reduced levels of PSA and alkaline phosphatase. Our data suggest that long-term usage of simvastatin hampers the metastatic potential of PCa cells and may therefore be a potential therapeutic drug for mPCa.

Keywords: adhesion; cell migration; cholesterol; long-term treatment; metastasis; prostate cancer; statins.

Grants and funding

During the ongoing research project, M.K. received one grant from the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Urologie (ÖGU), called Richard-Übelhör Stipendium, and another grant from the Tiroler Wissenschaftsförderung (TWF). These grants were used for arising costs of our performed experiments.