Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, simvastatin, lovastatin and mevastatin inhibit proliferation and invasion of melanoma cells

Sharon A Glynn12*, Dermot O'Sullivan1, Alex J Eustace1, Martin Clynes1 and Norma O'Donovan1

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland

2 Cancer Prevention Fellow, Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Room 3044, 37 Convent Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

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BMC Cancer 2008, 8:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-8-9

Published: 16 January 2008



A number of recent studies have suggested that cancer incidence rates may be lower in patients receiving statin treatment for hypercholesterolemia. We examined the effects of statin drugs on in vitro proliferation, migration and invasion of melanoma cells.


The ability of lovastatin, mevastatin and simvastatin to inhibit the melanoma cell proliferation was examined using cytotoxicity and apoptosis assays. Effects on cell migration and invasion were assessed using transwell invasion and migration chambers. Hypothesis testing was performed using 1-way ANOVA, and Student's t-test.


Lovastatin, mevastatin and simvastatin inhibited the growth, cell migration and invasion of HT144, M14 and SK-MEL-28 melanoma cells. The concentrations required to inhibit proliferation of melanoma cells (0.8–2.1 μM) have previously been achieved in a phase I clinical trial of lovastatin in patients with solid tumours, (45 mg/kg/day resulted in peak plasma concentrations of approximately 3.9 μM).


Our results suggest that statin treatment is unlikely to prevent melanoma development at standard doses. However, higher doses of statins may have a role to play in adjuvant therapy by inhibiting growth and invasion of melanoma cells.