Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by ovarian enlargement, theca-interstitial hyperplasia, and increased androgen production by theca cells. Previously, our group has demonstrated that statins (competitive inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase, a rate-limiting step of the mevalonate pathway) reduce proliferation of theca-interstitial cells in vitro and decrease serum androgen levels in women with PCOS. The present study evaluated the effect of simvastatin on rat ovarian theca-interstitial cell steroidogenesis. Because actions of statins may be due to reduced cholesterol availability and/or isoprenylation of proteins, the present study also investigated whether steroidogenesis was affected by cell- and mitochondrionpermeable 22-hydroxycholesterol, isoprenylation substrates (farnesyl-pyrophosphate [FPP] and geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate [GGPP]), as well as selective inhibitors of farnesyltransferase (FTI) and geranylgeranyltransferase (GGTI). Theca-interstitial cells were cultured for 12, 24, and 48 h with or without simvastatin, GGPP, FPP, FTI, GGTI, and/or 22-hydroxycholesterol. Simvastatin decreased androgen levels in a time- and concentration-dependent fashion. This inhibitory effect correlated with a decrease in mRNA levels of Cyp17a1, the gene encoding the key enzyme regulating androgen biosynthesis. After 48 h, GGPP alone and FPP alone had no effect on Cyp17a1 mRNA expression; however, the inhibitory action of simvastatin was partly abrogated by both GGPP and FPP. The present findings indicate that statin-induced reduction of androgen levels is likely due, at least in part, to the inhibition of isoprenylation, resulting in decreased expression of CYP17A1.
- Androgens/androgen receptor
- Cell culture
- Ovarian theca-interstitial cells
- Steroid hormones/steroid hormone receptors
- Theca cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology