The effects of simvastatin on Staphyloccus aureus infection in endothelial cells

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Horn, Mary P.
McDowell, Susan A.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Biology
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Simvastatin, a commonly prescribed statin, has exhibited several unexpected non-cholesterol lowering benefits. For example, patients taking statins have a decreased mortality rate due to bactereamia, a systemic bacterial infection commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). To investigate statin protection during bactereamia, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were pre-treated with simvastatin followed by infection with S. aureus, and infection was significantly decreased. Simvastatin inhibits the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. Therefore, the protective effect of simvastatin may be due to isoprenoid inhibition, specifically, farnesyl pyrophosphate (Fpp) and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGpp). Fpp and GGpp prenylate small G-proteins that function in cytoskeletal rearrangement and endocytosis. When Fpp and GGpp were replenished, infection was not significantly reduced. Furthermore, when farnesyl transferase and geranylgeranyl transferase, enzymes essential to transfer isoprenoid group during prenylation, were inhibited a significant decrease in infection was observed. The data indicates that Fpp and GGpp are essential for S. aureus infection.