The in vitro effect of simvastatin and pravastatin, two competitive inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase, on the proliferation of rat aortic smooth muscle cells was investigated. Simvastatin, but not pravastatin, inhibited the replication of arterial myocytes in concentrations ranging between 0.01 μm and 10 μm. The inhibition, evaluated as cell number and nuclear incorporation of [3H]thymidine, was dose-dependent and completely prevented by addition of mevalonate (100 μm), confirming the role of mevalonate or its products in regulating cell division and growth. The present results provide evidence that simvastatin, in addition to its effect on cholesterol biosynthesis, interferes in vitro with other processes involved in atherogenesis.
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