HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors inhibit endothelial exocytosis and decrease myocardial infarct size

Munekazu Yamakuchi, James J.M. Greer, Scott J. Cameron, Kenji Matsushita, Craig N. Morrell, Karen Talbot-Fox, William M. Baldwin, David J. Lefer, Charles J. Lowenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Three-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors protect the vasculature from inflammation and atherosclerosis by cholesterol dependent and cholesterol independent mechanisms. We hypothesized that HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors decrease exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies, endothelial cell granules whose contents promote thrombosis and vascular inflammation. We pretreated human aortic endothelial cells with simvastatin for 24 hours, then stimulated the cells with thrombin, and measured the amount of vWF released into the media. We then measured the effect of simvastatin on myocardial infarction in mice. Simvastatin decreased thrornbin-stimulated Weibel-Palade body exocytosis by 89%. Simvastatin inhibited exocytosis in part by increasing synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which S-nitrosylated N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor (NSF), a critical regulator of exocytosis. Simvastatin treatment attenuated myocardial infarct size by 58% in wild-type but not eNOS knockout mice. Furthermore, simvastatin decreased endothelial exocytosis and neutrophil infiltration into ischemic-reperfused myocardium, which was mediated in part by P-selectin contained in Weibel-Palade bodies. However, simvastatin did not affect exocytosis and inflammation in myocardial infarcts of eNOS knockout mice. Inhibition of endothelial exocytosis is a novel mechanism by which HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors may reduce vascular inflammation, inhibit thrombosis, and protect the ischemic myocardium. These findings may explain part of the pleiotropic effects of statin therapy for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1192
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 10 2005


  • Endothelium
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology


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