Lovastatin and phenylacetate inhibit the induction of nitric oxide synthase and cytokines in rat primary astrocytes, microglia, and macrophages

J Clin Invest. 1997 Dec 1;100(11):2671-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI119812.


This study explores the role of mevalonate inhibitors in the activation of NF-kbeta and the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and IL-6) in rat primary astrocytes, microglia, and macrophages. Lovastatin and sodium phenylacetate (NaPA) were found to inhibit LPS- and cytokine-mediated production of NO and expression of iNOS in rat primary astrocytes; this inhibition was not due to depletion of end products of mevalonate pathway (e.g., cholesterol and ubiquinone). Reversal of the inhibitory effect of lovastatin on LPS-induced iNOS expression by mevalonate and farnesyl pyrophosphate and reversal of the inhibitory effect of NaPA on LPS-induced iNOS expression by farnesyl pyrophosphate, however, suggests a role of farnesylation in the LPS-mediated induction of iNOS. The inhibition of LPS-mediated induction of iNOS by FPT inhibitor II, an inhibitor of Ras farnesyl protein transferase, suggests that farnesylation of p21(ras) or other proteins regulates the induction of iNOS. Inhibition of LPS-mediated activation of NF-kbeta by lovastatin, NaPA, and FPT inhibitor II in astrocytes indicates that the observed inhibition of iNOS expression is mediated via inhibition of NF-kbeta activation. In addition to iNOS, lovastatin and NaPA also inhibited LPS-induced expression of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and IL-6 in rat primary astrocytes, microglia, and macrophages. This study delineates a novel role of the mevalonate pathway in controlling the expression of iNOS and different cytokines in rat astrocytes, microglia, and macrophages that may be important in developing therapeutics against cytokine- and NO-mediated neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Lovastatin / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mevalonic Acid / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nitric Acid / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / biosynthesis*
  • Phenylacetates / pharmacology*
  • Polyisoprenyl Phosphates / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Mitogens
  • NF-kappa B
  • Phenylacetates
  • Polyisoprenyl Phosphates
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Nitric Acid
  • farnesyl pyrophosphate
  • Lovastatin
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • p21(ras) farnesyl-protein transferase
  • phenylacetic acid
  • Mevalonic Acid