• ischaemia;
  • nitric oxide;
  • statin;
  • diabetes;
  • peripheral vascular disease

Background and purpose:

Mature endothelial cells and their progenitors are dysfunctional in diabetes, resulting in deficient neovascularisation following arterial occlusion. This study aimed to evaluate the therapeutic activity of a nitric oxide (NO) releasing statin in the setting of experimental diabetes and peripheral ischaemia.

Experimental approach:

The effects of NCX 6550, an NO-releasing pravastatin derivative, on angiogenesis in ischaemic limbs was studied in normoglycaemic mice or mice made diabetic by treatment with streptozotocin (STZ). Control mice received an equimolar dosage of the parent statin compound, pravastatin. The therapeutic action of NCX 6550 was also tested in mice lacking the gene for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS).

Key Results:

In normoglycaemic or STZ-diabetic CD1 mice, only NCX 6550 stimulated skeletal muscle revascularisation. In addition, NCX 6550 induced greater improvement in limb reperfusion and salvage, than pravastatin. The number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells was decreased in STZ-diabetic mice, this defect being prevented by NCX 6550 and, to a lesser extent by pravastatin. In vitro, high glucose concentrations reduced the migratory capacity of endothelial progenitor EPCs, which was partly reversed by preincubation with pravastatin and completely reversed by NCX 6550. The postischaemic recovery of eNOS knockout mice was severely impaired as a consequence of depressed angiogenesis and this recovery was improved by treatment with NCX 6550, but not with pravastatin.

Conclusions and implications:

These findings indicate that incorporation of a bioactive NO moiety improves the therapeutic profile of statins for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2007) 150, 873–882. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707142