Statin-Induced Heme Oxygenase-1 Increases NF-κB Activation and Oxygen Radical Production in Cultured Neuronal Cells Exposed to Lipopolysaccharide

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With potentially neuroprotective properties, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been suggested to be the main mediator of cholesterol-independent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of statins. However, we had demonstrated that simvastatin-induced HO-1 increased apoptosis of Neuro 2A cells in glucose deprivation, and iron production from HO-1 activity may be responsible for the toxicity. This study was designed to explore the effect of simvastatin-induced HO-1 on cultured Neuro 2A and C6 cells exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We found that the HO-1 upregulation was significantly associated with increased nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation, manifested as IκBα phosphorylation and p65 nuclear translocation, as well as increased production of superoxides. Inhibition of the induced HO-1 by zinc protoporphyrin reduced the increased NF-κB activation and superoxides production. RNA interference with HO-1 siRNA reduced the expression of HO-1 transcripts and protein as well as oxygen radical production. Addition of the iron chelator desferrioxamine to reduce the accumulation of ferric iron from heme by HO-1 resulted in blockade of the aggravated oxygen radical production. There was no significant effect on production of oxygen radicals under these conditions in the presence of a CO donor (RuCO) or a CO scavenger (hemoglobin). In addition, the viable cells were significantly decreased in 48 h in those cells receiving simvastatin pretreatment plus LPS compared to those in control or exposed to simvastatin or LPS alone. This study revealed that simvastatin-induced HO-1 led to increased NF-κB activation and superoxides production in the neuronal cells when exposed to LPS, and iron production may play a role in such a response.

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