Chronic heart damage following doxorubicin treatment is alleviated by lovastatin

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Abstract

The anticancer efficacy of anthracyclines is limited by cumulative dose-dependent early and delayed cardiotoxicity resulting in congestive heart failure. Mechanisms responsible for anthracycline-induced heart damage are controversially discussed and effective preventive measures are preferable. Here, we analyzed the influence of the lipid lowering drug lovastatin on anthracycline-induced late cardiotoxicity three month after treatment of C57BL/6 mice with five low doses of doxorubicin (5 × 3 mg/kg BW; i.p.). Doxorubicin increased the cardiac mRNA levels of BNP, IL-6 and CTGF, while the expression of ANP remained unchanged. Lovastatin counteracted these persisting cardiac stress responses evoked by the anthracycline. Doxorubicin-induced fibrotic alterations were neither detected by histochemical collagen staining of heart sections nor by analysis of the mRNA expression of collagens. Extensive qRT-PCR-array based analyses revealed a large increase in the mRNA level of heat shock protein Hspa1b in doxorubicin-treated mice, which was mitigated by lovastatin co-treatment. Electron microscopy together with qPCR-based analysis of mitochondrial DNA content indicate that lovastatin attenuates doxorubicin-stimulated hyperproliferation of mitochondria. This was not paralleled by increased expression of oxidative stress responsive genes or senescence-associated proteins. Echocardiographic analyses disclosed that lovastatin protects from the doxorubicin-induced decrease in the left ventricular posterior wall diameter (LVPWD), while constrictions in fractional shortening (FS) and ejection fraction (EF) evoked by doxorubicin were not amended by the statin. Taken together, the data suggest beneficial effects of lovastatin against doxorubicin-induced delayed cardiotoxicity. Clinical studies are preferable to scrutinize the usefulness of statins for the prevention of anthracycline-induced late cardiotoxicity.

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