Original Article

Atorvastatin inhibits homocysteine-induced dysfunction and apoptosis in endothelial progenitor cells

Authors: Xiao-mei Bao, Chun-fang Wu, Guo-ping Lu
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2010.22


Aim: To investigate the protective effects of atorvastatin on homocysteine (Hcy)-induced dysfunction and apoptosis in endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and the possible molecular mechanisms.
Methods: EPCs were divided into six groups: Hcy treatment groups (0, 50, and 500 μmol/L) and atorvastatin pretreatment groups (0.1, 1, and 10 μmol/L). EPC proliferation, migration, in vitro vasculogenesis activity, and apoptosis rate were assayed by the MTT assay, modified Boyden chamber assay, in vitro vasculogenesis kit, and AnnexinV-FITC apoptosis detection kit, respectively. The level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cells was measured using H2DCF-DA as a fluorescence probe. The activity of NADPH oxidase was evaluated with lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence. NO in the supernatant was detected by the nitrate reductase assay. The eNOS mRNA expression and p-eNOS, p-Akt, p-p38MAPK protein expression were measured by RT-PCR and Western blotting analysis, respectively. Caspase-3 activity was determined by colorimetric assay.
Results: Hcy does-dependently impaired the proliferation, migration and in vitro vasculogenesis capacity of EPCs, induced cell apoptosis, increased ROS accumulation and NADPH oxidase activation, and decreased the secretion of NO compared with the control group (P<0.05 or P<0.01). The detrimental effects of Hcy were attenuated by atorvastatin pretreatment. Furthermore, Hcy caused a significant downregulation of eNOS mRNA, p-eNOS, and p-Akt protein expression as well as an upregulation of p-p38MAPK protein expression and caspase-3 activity. These effects of Hcy on EPCs were reversed by atorvastatin in a does-dependent manner.
Conclusion: Atorvastatin inhibited homocysteine-induced dysfunction and apoptosis in endothelial progenitor cells, which may be related to its effects on suppressing oxidative stress, up-regulating Akt/eNOS and down-regulating the p38MAPK/caspase-3 signaling pathway.

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