Does atorvastatin induce aortic smooth muscle cell apoptosis in vivo?

Marielle Doyon, Taben Mary Hale, Julie Emilie Huot-Marchand, Rong Wu, Jacques de Champlain, Denis deBlois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


It has been reported that HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors such as atorvastatin induce vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) apoptosis in vitro. However, this effect remains to be demonstrated in vivo. The present studies were designed to test the ability of atorvastatin to induce SMC apoptosis in vivo, using the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) as a well-known reference model of SMC apoptosis induction in vivo by cardiovascular drugs including the calcium channel blocker amlodipine. Atorvastatin was administered to SHR for 3 or 6weeks either alone or together with amlodipine, a drug combination clinically available to patients. Primary endpoints included aortic medial hypertrophy and aortic SMC hyperplasia, internucleosomal DNA fragmentation and expression of the apoptosis regulatory proteins Bax and Bcl-2. The SHR aorta showed no evidence of SMC apoptosis induction by atorvastatin, even at the high dose of 50mgkg-1day-1, although the statin significantly reduced oxidative stress after 3weeks and blood pressure after 6weeks of administration. Amlodipine-induced regression of aortic hypertophy and aortic SMC hyperplasia were dose- and time-dependent, but there was no interaction between atorvastatin and amlodipine in modulating the primary endpoints. These results do not support the notion that atorvastatin induces SMC apoptosis in the aortic media in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalVascular Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Amlodipine
  • Apoptosis
  • Atorvastatin
  • Combination therapy
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rat
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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