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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Inhibiting Airway Smooth Muscle Contraction Using Pitavastatin: A Role for the Mevalonate Pathway in Regulating Cytoskeletal Proteins.

  • Author(s): Lu, Robin A
  • Zeki, Amir A
  • Ram-Mohan, Sumati
  • Nguyen, Nhan
  • Bai, Yan
  • Chmiel, Kenneth
  • Pecic, Stevan
  • Ai, Xingbin
  • Krishnan, Ramaswamy
  • Ghosh, Chandra C
  • et al.

Despite maximal use of currently available therapies, a significant number of asthma patients continue to experience severe, and sometimes life-threatening bronchoconstriction. To fill this therapeutic gap, we examined a potential role for the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) inhibitor, pitavastatin. Using human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells and murine precision-cut lung slices, we discovered that pitavastatin significantly inhibited basal-, histamine-, and methacholine (MCh)-induced ASM contraction. This occurred via reduction of myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) phosphorylation, and F-actin stress fiber density and distribution, in a mevalonate (MA)- and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP)-dependent manner. Pitavastatin also potentiated the ASM relaxing effect of a simulated deep breath, a beneficial effect that is notably absent with the β2-agonist, isoproterenol. Finally, pitavastatin attenuated ASM pro-inflammatory cytokine production in a GGPP-dependent manner. By targeting all three hallmark features of ASM dysfunction in asthma-contraction, failure to adequately relax in response to a deep breath, and inflammation-pitavastatin may represent a unique asthma therapeutic.

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