Atorvastatin, a lipid lowering agent, possesses various pleiotropic vasculoprotective effects, but its role in coronary angiogenesis is still controversial. Our objective was to study the effects of atorvastatin on the angiogenic responsiveness of coronary endothelial cells (cEC) from
normal and diabetic rats. Male Wistar rats were distributed among 9 groups; (i) normal rats, (ii) 30 day diabetic rats, (iii) 60 day diabetic rats, (iv) normal rats administered a low dose of atorvastatin (1 mg/kg body mass, per oral (p.o.), for 15 days); (v)
30 day diabetic rats administered a low dose of atorvastatin; (vi) 60 day diabetic rats administered a low dose of atorvastatin; (vii) normal rats administered a high dose of atorvastatin (5 mg/kg, p.o., for 15 days); (viii) 30 day diabetic rats administered a high dose
of atorvastatin; (ix) 60 day diabetic rats administered a high dose of atorvastatin. Each group was further divided into 2 subgroups, (i) sham ischemia–reperfusion and (ii) rats hearts that underwent ischemia–reperfusion. Angiogenic responsiveness the and nitric
oxide (NO) releasing properties of the subgroups of cECs were studied using a chorioallantoic membrane assay and the Griess method, respectively. Atorvastatin treatment significantly increased VEGF-induced angiogenic responsiveness and the NO-releasing properties of cECs from all of the subgroups,
compared with their respective non-treated subgroups except for the late-phase diabetic rat hearts that underwent ischemia–reperfusion, and the high dose of atorvastatin treatment groups. These effects of atorvastatin were significantly inhibited by pretreatment of cECs with l-NAME,
wortmannin, and chelerythrine. Thus, treatment with a low dose of atorvastatin improves the angiogenic responsiveness of the cECs from normal and diabetic rats, in the presence of VEGF, via activation of eNOS–NO release.
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