Impact of Statins on Gene Expression in Human Lung Tissues

Jerome Lane, Stephan F. van Eeden, Ma'en Obeidat, Don D. Sin, Scott J. Tebbutt, Wim Timens, Dirkje S. Postma, Michel Laviolette, Peter D. Pare, Yohan Bosse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Statins are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors that alter the synthesis of cholesterol. Some studies have shown a significant association of statins with improved respiratory health outcomes of patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Here we hypothesize that statins impact gene expression in human lungs and may reveal the pleiotropic effects of statins that are taking place directly in lung tissues. Human lung tissues were obtained from patients who underwent lung resection or transplantation. Gene expression was measured on a custom Affymetrix array in a discovery cohort (n = 408) and two replication sets (n = 341 and 282). Gene expression was evaluated by linear regression between statin users and non-users, adjusting for age, gender, smoking status, and other covariables. The results of each cohort were combined in a meta-analysis and biological pathways were studied using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis. The discovery set included 141 statin users. The lung mRNA expression levels of eighteen and three genes were up-regulated and down-regulated in statin users (FDR <0.05), respectively. Twelve of the up-regulated genes were replicated in the first replication set, but none in the second (p-value <0.05). Combining the discovery and replication sets into a meta-analysis improved the significance of the 12 up-regulated genes, which includes genes encoding enzymes and membrane proteins involved in cholesterol biosynthesis. Canonical biological pathways altered by statins in the lung include cholesterol, steroid, and terpenoid backbone biosynthesis. No genes encoding inflammatory, proteases, pro-fibrotic or growth factors were altered by statins, suggesting that the direct effect of statin in the lung do not go beyond its antilipidemic action. Although more studies are needed with specific lung cell types and different classes and doses of statins, the improved health outcomes and survival observed in statin users with chronic lung diseases do not seem to be mediated through direct regulation of gene expression in the lung.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142037
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4-Nov-2015

Keywords

  • OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY-DISEASE
  • EMERGENCY-DEPARTMENT VISITS
  • POPULATION-BASED COHORT
  • C-REACTIVE PROTEIN
  • PROBE LEVEL DATA
  • SEVERE COPD
  • MORTALITY
  • SIMVASTATIN
  • CANCER
  • REDUCE

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