Acute activation and phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors

M. Brennan Harris, Michele A. Blackstone, Sarika G. Sood, Chunying Li, Jonathan M Goolsby, Virginia J. Venema, Bruce E. Kemp, Richard C Venema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase inhibitors, statins, provide beneficial effects independent of their lipid-lowering effects. One beneficial effect appears to involve acute activation of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS) and increased NO release. However, the mechanism of acute statin-stimulated eNOS activation is unknown. Therefore, we hypothesized that eNOS activation may be coupled to altered eNOS phosphorylation. Bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs), passages 2-6, were treated with either lovastatin or pravastatin from 0 to 30 min. eNOS phosphorylation was examined by Western blot by use of phosphospecific antibodies for Ser-1179, Ser-635, Ser-617, Thr-497, and Ser-116. Statin stimulation of BAECs increased eNOS phosphorylation at Ser-1179 and Ser-617, which was blocked by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase)/Akt inhibitor wortmannin, and at Ser-635, which was blocked by the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor KT-5720. Statin treatment of BAECs transiently increased NO release by fourfold, measured by cGMP accumulation, and was attenuated by N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, wortmannin, and KT-5720 but not by mevalonate. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that eNOS is acutely activated by statins independent of HMG-CoA reductase inhibition and that in addition to Ser-1179, eNOS phosphorylation at Ser-635 and Ser-617 through PKA and Akt, respectively, may explain, in part, a mechanism by which eNOS is activated in response to acute statin treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H560-H566
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2 56-2
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Endothelium
  • Statins
  • Vascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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