Effects of simvastatin on bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in female rats
Statins reduce cholesterol levels by inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase and have a major place in the treatment of atherosclerotic disease. Recent studies have shown anti-inflammatory properties of statins. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of simvastatin on bleomycin (BLM)-induced pulmonary fibrosis in rats. A total of 31 female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups: (1) intratracheal (IT) phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) + intraperitoneal (IP) PBS (n=7); (2) IT BLM + IP PBS (n=8); (3) IT BLM + low dose (LD) simvastatin (1 mg/kg daily, n=8); (4) IT BLM + high dose (HD) simvastatin (5 mg/kg daily, n=8). Simvastatin was administered IP for 15 days, beginning 1 day prior to IT BLM. The effect of simvastatin on pulmonary fibrosis was studied by measurements of IL-13, PDGF, IFN-γ, TGF-p1 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and lung tissue hydroxyproline (HPL) content and by histopathological examination (Ashcroft score). BLM caused significant change in BAL fluid cytokine levels and increased both HPL content and histopathological score (p<0.001 for all). While LD simvastatin had no effect on cytokine levels, HD significantly reduced IL-13 (15.12 ±7.08 pg/ml vs. 4.43±2.34 pg/mL; p<0.05) and TGF-β1 levels (269.25 ±65.42 pg/mL vs. 131.75±32.65 pg/mL; p<0.05). Neither HD nor LD simvastatin attenuated HPL content or Ashcroft score. In conclusion, this study showed that LD simvastatin had no effect on a BLM-induced pulmonary fibrosis model, while the high dose caused partial improvement in profibrotic cytokine levels.