Simvastatin inhibits IFN regulatory factor 4 expression and Th17 cell differentiation in CD4+ T cells derived from patients with multiple sclerosis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Subsequent to the clinical trial of simvastatin in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RR MS), which demonstrated the ability of simvastatin to inhibit new inflammatory CNS lesion formation, the current in vitro study has characterized the mechanisms through which simvastatin inhibits Th17 cell differentiation. The anti-inflammatory effects of statins are mediated by the inhibition of isoprenylation, which ensures proper membrane insertion and function of proteins. Small GTPases, involved in multiple signal transduction pathways, are the key targets for isoprenylation. We report that simvastatin, one of the most hydrophobic statins with good CNS penetration, inhibited Th17 cell differentiation and IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-21, and IL-22 secretion in in vitro-differentiated naive CD4(+) T cells from RR MS patients. Simvastatin exerted a less prominent effect on the cells from healthy controls, as it inhibited only IL-17F secretion. The inhibition of Th17 cell differentiation was mediated via inhibition of IFN regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) expression, which was identified as a key transcription factor for human Th17 cell differentiation using both IRF4 gene knockdown and overexpression experiments. In studies addressing which isoprenylation pathway--geranylgeranylation or farnesylation--is inhibited by simvastatin, we demonstrated that the geranylgeranyl transferase inhibitor replicated the effect of simvastatin. Selective inhibition of geranylgeranylated RhoA-associated kinase replicated the effect of simvastatin on the inhibition of IRF4 expression and IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-21, and IL-22 secretion, presenting a promising new therapeutic approach for this disabling disease.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zhang, X; Tao, Y; Troiani, L; Markovic-Plese, S

Published Date

  • September 15, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 187 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 3431 - 3437

PubMed ID

  • 21856936

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-6606

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.4049/jimmunol.1100580


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States