Simvastatin stimulates apoptosis in cholangiocarcinoma by inhibition of Rac1 activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Simvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering drug that is widely used to prevent and treat atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Simvastatin exhibits numerous pleiotropic effects including anti-cancer activity. However, the effect of simvastatin on cholangiocarcinoma has not been evaluated. AIM: The aim of our study was to determine the effect of simvastatin on cholangiocarcinoma proliferation. METHODS: The effect of simvastatin was evaluated in five human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines (Mz-ChA-1, HuH-28, TFK-1, SG231, and HuCCT1) and normal cholangiocyte cell line (HiBEpiC). RESULTS: We found that simvastatin stimulates a reduction in cell viability and apoptosis of cholangiocarcinoma cell lines, whilst in normal human cholangiocytes, HiBEpiC, simvastatin inhibits proliferation with no effect on apoptosis. Simvastatin-induced reduction of cell viability was partially blocked by pre-treatment with metabolites of the mevalonate pathway. In Mz-ChA-1 cells, pre-treatment with cholesterol alone stimulated an increase in the number of viable cells and fully restored cell viability following simvastatin treatment. Treatment with simvastatin triggered the loss of lipid raft localised Rac1 and reduction of Rac1 activity in Mz-ChA-1 cells. This effect was prevented by pre-treatment with cholesterol. CONCLUSION: Collectively, our results demonstrate that simvastatin induces cholangiocarcinoma cancer cell death by disrupting Rac1/lipid raft colocalisation and depression of Rac1 activity.

published proceedings

  • Dig Liver Dis

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Miller, T., Yang, F., Wise, C. E., Meng, F., Priester, S., Munshi, M. K., ... Glaser, S. S.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Miller, Timothy||Yang, Fuquan||Wise, Candace E||Meng, Fanyin||Priester, Sally||Munshi, Md Kamruzzaman||Guerrier, Micheleine||Dostal, David E||Glaser, Shannon S

publication date

  • January 2011