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Open Access Research article

The influence of statins on the free intracellular calcium concentration in human umbilical vein endothelial cells

Stephan Heinke1, Gero Schwarz1, Hans R Figulla1 and Stefan H Heinemann2*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinics for Internal Medicine I Med. Faculty of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena Erlanger Allee 101, D-07747 Jena, Germany

2 Unit Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Med. Faculty of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena Drackendorfer St. 1, D-07747 Jena, Germany

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2004, 4:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-4-4

Published: 4 May 2004

Abstract

Background

Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that are widely used to reduce the risk of cardiac infarction. Their beneficial clinical effects, however, are not restricted to their influence on cholesterol production. As several studies have shown that they have a potency of relaxing blood vessels.

Methods

We measured the effects of statins on the intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) after acute application and 24-h-preincubation of statins.

Results

Incubation of the cells for 24 h with cerivastatin or fluvastatin significantly increased the resting [Ca2+]i. For cerivastatin this effect manifested at a concentration of 1 μM. Increase of resting [Ca2+]i in the presence of cerivastatin also occurred when the nitric oxide synthase was inhibited. Transient Ca2+ release induced by histamine was not affected.

Conclusions

The increase of resting [Ca2+]i after incubation with cerivastatin or fluvastatin may provide an explanation for the direct effects of statins on the endothelial-dependent vasodilatation and restoration of endothelial activity in vivo.

Keywords:
Endothelium; Free Intracelluar Calcium; Nitric Oxide; Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductase Inhibitors; Arteriosclerosis.