Statins, stem cells, and cancer

Authors

  • Kalamegam Gauthaman,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119074, Singapore
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Chui-Yee Fong,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119074, Singapore
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ariff Bongso

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119074, Singapore
    • Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119074, Singapore.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The statins (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors) were proven to be effective antilipid agents against cardiovascular disease. Recent reports demonstrate an anticancer effect induced by the statins through inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis, or inhibition of angiogenesis. These effects are due to suppression of the mevalonate pathway leading to depletion of various downstream products that play an essential role in cell cycle progression, cell signaling, and membrane integrity. Recent evidence suggests a shared genomic fingerprint between embryonic stem cells, cancer cells, and cancer stem cells. Activation targets of NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, and c-MYC are more frequently overexpressed in certain tumors. In the absence of bona fide cancer stem cell lines, human embryonic stem cells, which have similar properties to cancer and cancer stem cells, have been an excellent model throwing light on the anticancer affects of various putative anticancer agents. It was shown that key cellular functions in karyotypically abnormal colorectal and ovarian cancer cells and human embryonic stem cells are inhibited by the statins and this is mediated via a suppression of this stemness pathway. The strategy for treatment of cancers may thus be the targeting of a putative cancer stem cell within the tumor with specific agents such as the statins with or without chemotherapy. The statins may thus play a dual prophylactic role as a lipid-lowering drug for the prevention of heart disease and as an anticancer agent to prevent certain cancers. This review examines the relationship between the statins, stem cells, and certain cancers. J. Cell. Biochem. 106: 975–983, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary