HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor statins are used for hypercholesterolemia. However, statins have adverse effects on skeletal muscles with unknown mechanism. We reported recently that fluvastatin induced vacuolation and cell death in rat skeletal myofibers by depleting geranylgeranylpyrophosphate (GGPP) and suppressing small GTPases, particularly Rab [Sakamoto et al., FASEB J (2007) 21, 4087-4094]. Rab1 is one of the most susceptible Rab isoforms to GGPP depletion and is essential for endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi trafficking. Here, we explored whether Rab1 and ER-to-Golgi vesicle trafficking were affected by statins in cultured single myofibers isolated from flexor digitorum brevis muscles of adult rats. Western blot analysis revealed that Rab1A protein resided predominantly in membrane but not in cytosol in control myofibers, while it was opposite in fluvastatin-treated myofibers, indicating that fluvastatin inhibited Rab1A translocation from cytosol to membrane. GGPP supplementation prevented the effect of fluvastatin on Rab1A translocation. Brefeldin A, a specific suppressor of ER-to-Golgi trafficking, induced vacuolation and cell death in myofibers in a manner similar to that of fluvastatin. Although ER-to-Golgi traffic suppression induces unfolded protein response (UPR) and cell death in some cell types, neither fluvastatin nor brefeldin A up-regulated UPR in myofibers. Immunofluorescence study revealed that the distribution of an ER marker, calnexin, was restricted to the region around nucleus with fluvastatin, suggesting the inhibition of ER membrane traffic by fluvastatin. We conclude that suppression of Rab1 GTPase and subsequent inhibition of ER-to-Golgi traffic are involved in statin-induced skeletal myotoxicity.
- Received January 21, 2011.
- Revision received April 4, 2011.
- Accepted April 5, 2011.
- The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics