HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors suppress maturation of human dendritic cells: new implications for atherosclerosis


      The beneficial effects of statins in atherosclerosis have been partly attributed to their immunomodulating functions. Dendritic cells (DC), which are “professional” antigen-presenting cells, were recently detected in atherosclerotic plaques. It is assumed that DC play a critical role in the immunological processes related to atherosclerosis. Thus, we investigated the effects of statins on maturation and antigen-presenting function of DC. Human monocyte-derived DC were incubated with simvastatin or atorvastatin (1–10 μM) for different periods (1–48 h), and were subsequently stimulated with a cytokine cocktail (1.25 ng/ml TNF-α, 1 ng/ml Il-1β, and 0.5 μg/ml prostaglandin E2) to induce maturation. In contrast to untreated DC, statin-preincubated DC exhibited an immature phenotype and a significantly lower expression of the maturation-associated markers CD83, CD40, CD86, HLA-DR, and CCR7. The inhibitory statin effect was completely reversed by mevalonate or geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. In addition, preincubation with statins significantly reduced the ability of cytokine-stimulated DC to induce T cell proliferation. In the present study, we have shown that statins inhibit the maturation and antigen-presenting function of human myeloid dendritic cells, thus maybe contributing to their beneficial effects in atherosclerosis. Therefore, the use of statins as immunomodulators might also provide a new therapeutic approach to other immunological disorders.


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