Pharmacological Effects of Statins Related to Gap Junction Modulation


3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or “statins”, are widely using cholesterol-lowering drugs with pleiotropic pharmacological effects. In this review, we summarized the pharmacological effects of statins related to gap junction modulation. The main function of cellular gap junctions, which are composed of trans-membrane proteins named connexins (Cxs), is to mediate direct cell-to-cell communication through material exchange. Statins could rectify the disturbed expression, distribution, or phosphorylation of Cxs and thus modify the functions of gap junctions in a variety of tissues like the aorta, cardiomyocytes, or tumors. The effects of statins on Cxs and gap junctions were associated with their pharmacological activities against atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, and tumors. Despite some evidences suggested that the anti-inflammatory or HMG-CoA reductase inhibiting effects of statins may contribute in part to the modulation of Cxs and gap junctions, the detailed underlying mechanisms are largely unrevealed and merit further investigation. In addition, it is likely that the modulating effects of statins on gap junctions may also contribute to their pharmacological activities against some diabetic complications. Future studies of these issues will help to provide scientific evidences for the appropriate clinical application of statins.

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Qu, L. , Jiang, J. and Kong, W. (2014) Pharmacological Effects of Statins Related to Gap Junction Modulation. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 5, 319-331. doi: 10.4236/pp.2014.54039.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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