Atorvastatin reduces long pentraxin 3 expression in vascular cells by inhibiting protein geranylgeranylation

Roberta Baetta, Sabrina Lento, Stefania Ghilardi, Elisa Barbati, Alberto Corsini, Elena Tremoli, Cristina Banfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The long pentraxin PTX3 is an acute-phase multi-functional protein that might play both positive and detrimental effects under different pathophysiological conditions. We previously showed that statins down-regulate the release of PTX3 in human endothelial cells (ECs). The present study investigated the mechanism mediating this effect, its occurrence in other cells involved in atherogenesis, and whether it takes place in experimental atherosclerosis. Methods and results: We found that atorvastatin (1-5. μmol/L) decreased the production and release of PTX3 in human ECs through a post-transcriptional effect. Co-incubation with mevalonate or geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate prevented this effect. Direct blockade of geranylgeranyl transferase I by GGTI-286, treatment with the Rac inhibitor NSC23766 or silencing of the geranylgeranylated GTPase Rac2 by siRNA closely mimicked the action of atorvastatin. In contrast, inactivation of other geranylgeranylated proteins such as RhoA, RhoB, and RhoC or Rac1 did not affect PTX3 release. In addition, we found that atorvastatin also decreased PTX3 secretion in aortic SMCs through a mechanism likely dependent on protein geranylgeranylation, while no effect was observed in monocytes. Finally, we found that atherosclerotic lesions from cholesterol-fed rabbits treated with atorvastatin (2.5. mg/kg/day for 8. weeks) showed less immunoreactive PTX3 than lesions from control animals. Conclusions: Results suggest that statins may interfere with PTX3 expression in vascular cells via inhibition of protein geranylgeranylation. Since PTX3 is increasingly regarded as an important mediator of the inflammatory response underlying atherosclerosis and its complications, these results highlight the need for further studies of the role of PTX3 and its potential pharmacological modulation in cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-47
Number of pages10
JournalVascular Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Atherosclerosis
  • HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors
  • Inflammation
  • Pattern recognition proteins
  • Rac2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Physiology


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