In order to investigate the anti-proliferative effect of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor, we evaluated the effects of lovastatin on DNA replication and the proliferation of rat mesangial and aortic smooth muscle cells, both of which were mesenchymal origin cells. Proliferations were determined by measuring [3H]thymidine uptake, and counting the number of cells. Growth-arrested mesangial and aortic smooth muscle cells were exposed to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), endothelin (ET) and angiotensin II (Ang II) to stimulate mitogenesis. All agents exhibited dose-dependent stimulation of [3H]thymidine uptake. PDGF was more potent than the others. Ang II increased [3H]thymidine uptake without demonstrable mitogenic activity. Lovastatin inhibited PDGF (10 ng/ml in mesangial cells, 25 ng/ml in smooth muscle cells)-, ET (10-7 M)- and Ang II (10-7 M)-induced [3H]thymidine uptake significantly in a dose-dependent manner in both cells. The increase of cell number in response to PDGF and ET treatment were also inhibited at 10 μM of lovastatin. The inhibitory effect of lovastatin was largely overcome in the presence of exogenous mevalonate at 200 μM, with 75.5% restoration from lovastatin-induced inhibition on PDGF-induced [3H]thymidine uptake in mesangial cells (77.8% in aortic smooth muscle cells). However, the addition of cholesterol did not prevent inhibition by lovastatin. In conclusion, lovastatin had an inhibitory effect on mesangial and aortic smooth muscle cell proliferation, and mevalonate was essential for DNA replication in both types of cells. Lovastatin may reduce glomerular and atherosclerotic injury through an anti-proliferative effect on mesangial and vascular smooth muscle cells, in addition to lowering circulating lipids.
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