Angiotensin II, through the activation of angiotensin II type 1 receptors, plays a crucial role in atherosclerosis. Statins may interfere with the effects of angiotensin II.Methods
We have investigated the expression of angiotensin II type 1 receptor, angiotensin II type 2 receptor and angiotensinogen on circulating monocytes and T-lymphocytes from subjects at high risk for vascular events before and during simvastatin treatment, and healthy controls. In-vitro experiments were also performed to assess the ability of simvastatin to interfere with angiotensin II signalling.Results
In comparison with controls, high-risk subjects had similar angiotensin II type 1 receptor expression on the cell membranes but significantly higher angiotensin II type 1 receptor mRNA levels at least in monocyte subsets whereas their expression on T cells was similar. Angiotensin II type 2 receptor mRNA expression was higher than controls in both monocytes and T lymphocytes. No differences were observed in angiotensinogen expression on monocytes while T lymphocytes of high-risk subjects show higher expression. One-month treatment of high-risk subjects with simvastatin resulted in a reduction of angiotensin II type 1 receptor mRNA without affecting angiotensin II type 2 receptor whereas angiotensinogen mRNA expression was reduced at least in monocytes. Incubation in vitro with simvastatin reduces the expression of angiotensin II type 1 receptor mRNA levels on monocytes from untreated subjects.Conclusion
Simvastatin induces down-regulation of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor, interferes with angiotensin II activity in immune cells and contributes to the anti-inflammatory profile of statins that can explain the therapeutic effects of these drugs.