Differential roles of MAP kinases in atorvastatin-induced VEGF release in cardiac myocytes

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Statins, specific inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, are now widely used for treatment of patients with hypercholesterolemia. In addition to the reduction of cholesterol biosynthesis, accumulating evidence indicates that statins have several pleiotropic effects especially on cardiovascular system. However, the exact role of statin in cardiac myocytes remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated whether atorvastatin induces vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) release in cardiac myocytes, and the underlying mechanism. We observed that atorvastatin significantly stimulated VEGF release in a dose-dependent manner. It induced the phosphorylation of p44/p42 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and p38 MAP kinase but not SAPK (stress-activated protein kinase)/JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase). The atorvastatin-induced VEGF release was enhanced by PD98059, which is a specific inhibitor of the upstream kinase that activates p44/p42 MAP kinase (MEK). Further, it was significantly reduced by SB203580, a specific inhibitor of p38 MAP kinase. Furthermore, the atorvastatin-induced phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase was attenuated by SB203580, whereas it was enhanced by PD98059. Taken together, these results suggest that the atorvastatin-induced VEGF release in cardiac myocytes is positively regulated by p38 MAP kinase and negatively regulated byp44/p42 MAP kinase and that the atorvastatin-induced phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase is regulated by p44/p42 MAP kinase in these cells.

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