Lovastatin Induces Relaxation and Inhibits L-Type Ca2+ Current in the Rat Basilar Artery.

Andreas Bergdahl, Erik Persson, Per Hellstrand, Karl Swärd

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Statins inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis and protect against ischaemic stroke. It has become increasingly apparent that the beneficial effects of statin therapy may extend beyond lowering of serum cholesterol. The present study was done to explore possible pleiotropic statin effects at the level of the cerebral vascular smooth muscle. Lovastatin, lovastatin acid, simvastatin and pravastatin, were added to segments of the rat basilar artery and effects on contraction and Ca2+ handling were examined. Pravastatin had no effect on contraction. Simvastatin, lovastatin, and, to a lesser degree, lovastatin acid, caused relaxation (IC50=0.8, 1.9 and 22 μmol/l) of both intact and denuded arteries precontracted with 5-HT or high-K+. This effect was not reversed by mevalonate, suggesting that it was not related to cholesterol or isoprenoid metabolism. Relaxation was associated with a reduction of the intracellular Ca2+ concentration measured with Fura 2 and with a reduced Mn2+ quench rate, suggesting a direct effect on ion channels in the smooth muscle cell membrane. Current measurements in isolated and voltage clamped basilar artery muscle cells demonstrated that both lovastatin and lovastatin acid inhibit L-type Ca2+ current. We propose that lipophilicity is an important factor behind the effects of statins on vascular tone and that Ca2+ current inhibition is the likely mechanism of action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-134
JournalPharmacology and Toxicology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physiology


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