Prostate specific antigen reduction following statin therapy: Mechanism of action and review of the literature


  • David J. Mener

    Corresponding author
    1. Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA
    • University of Rochester School of Medicine, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
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Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a serine protease that is exclusively produced in the prostate, and its detection is the only laboratory test available for screening men for prostate cancer (PC). The interpretation of the assay is difficult since it is specific for prostate tissue and cellular growth, but not for PC. Pharmacologic therapy for hyperlipidemia, such as statins, may influence prostate cellular growth and subsequently PSA levels in patients. Dysregulated cellular growth in the prostate is mediated by inhibiting the rate-limiting pathway step in cholesterol synthesis, thereby decreasing isoprenylate intermediates, decreasing cholesterol rich cellular membrane domains, and down-regulating androgen and estrogen receptors. Statins, with variable efficacy, have been previously shown to inhibit cellular inflammation, angiogenesis, proliferation, migration/adhesion, and invasion, while promoting apoptosis in prostate cells by inhibiting the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate. An individual statin's molecular structure, need for enzymatic conversion, bioavailability, and peripheral tissue concentration may partially account for differing properties. By inhibiting prostatic cellular growth and promoting apoptosis, statins may subsequently decrease PSA levels, an effect recently observed in cohorts. There is scientific and clinical evidence supporting the observations that statins are associated with an overall reduction in serum PSA in men, when used for greater than 6 months, and especially when used for greater than 2 years. © 2010 IUBMB IUBMB Life, 62(8): 584–590, 2010.