Tissue-selective acute effects of inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase on cholesterol biosynthesis in lens.
J Lipid Res. 1989 Sep ;30(9):1411-20. PMID: 2513368
Department of Cellular Biology, Squibb Institute for Medical Research, Princeton, NJ 08543-4000.
Inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the key enzyme that regulates cholesterol synthesis, lower serum cholesterol by increasing the activity of low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors in the liver. In rat liver slices, the dose-response curves for inhibition of [14C]acetate incorporation into cholesterol were similar for the active acid forms of lovastatin, simvastatin, and pravastatin. The calculated IC50 values were approximately 20-50 nM for all three drugs. Interest in possible extrahepatic effects of reductase inhibitors is based on recent findings that some inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase, lovastatin and simvastatin, can cause cataracts in dogs at high doses. To evaluate the effects of these drugs on cholesterol synthesis in the lens, we developed a facile, reproducible ex vivo assay using lenses from weanling rats explanted to tissue culture medium. [14C]Acetate incorporation into cholesterol was proportional to time and to the number of lenses in the incubation and was completely eliminated by high concentrations of inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase. At the same time, incorporation into free fatty acids was not inhibited. In marked contrast to the liver, the dose-response curve for pravastatin in lens was shifted two orders of magnitude to the right of the curves for lovastatin acid and simvastatin acid. The calculated IC50 values were 4.5 +/- 0.7 nM, 5.2 +/- 1.5 nM, and 469 +/- 42 nM for lovastatin acid, simvastatin acid, and pravastatin, respectively. Thus, while equally active in the liver, pravastatin was 100-fold less inhibitory in the lens compared to lovastatin and simvastatin. Similar selectivity was observed with rabbit lens. Following oral dosing, ex vivo inhibition of [14C]acetate incorporation into cholesterol in rat liver was similar for lovastatin and pravastatin, but cholesterol synthesis in lens was inhibited by lovastatin by as much as 70%. This inhibition was dose-dependent and no inhibition in lens was observed with pravastatin even at very high doses. This tissue-selective inhibition of sterol synthesis by pravastatin was likely due to the inability of pravastatin to enter the intact lens since pravastatin and lovastatin acid were equally effective inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase enzyme activity in whole lens homogenates. We conclude that pravastatin is tissue-selective with respect to lens and liver in its ability to inhibit cholesterol synthesis.