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Apomine, a 1,1-bisphosphonate-ester with antitumor activity, has previously been reported to strongly down-regulate 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase), the rate-limiting enzyme in the mevalonate pathway responsible for the prenylation of proteins. Here, we show that although apomine down-regulated HMG-CoA reductase protein levels in myeloma cells, it did not inhibit protein prenylation, and apomine-induced apoptosis could not be prevented by mevalonate, indicating that apomine cytotoxicity is independent from its effects on HMG-CoA reductase. Instead, apomine cytotoxicity was prevented by the addition of phosphatidylcholine, which is similar to the previously reported ability of phosphatidylcholine to overcome the cytotoxicity of farnesol, whereas phosphatidylcholine had no effect on down-regulation of HMG-CoA reductase by apomine. These findings raised the possibility that apomine, independent from its own cytotoxic effects, could enhance the antitumor effects of the competitive HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor lovastatin via down-regulating HMG-CoA reductase. Indeed, treatment with apomine in combination with lovastatin resulted in synergistic decreases in viable cell number and induction of apoptosis. At the concentrations used, apomine down-regulated HMG-CoA reductase protein levels without being cytotoxic. Accumulation of unprenylated Rap1A by lovastatin was enhanced in the presence of apomine. Furthermore, synergy was completely prevented by mevalonate, and apomine did not synergize with desoxolovastatin, which does not inhibit HMG-CoA reductase. We conclude that the synergistic drug interaction results from an enhancement by apomine of the effects of lovastatin, mediated by down-regulation of HMG-CoA reductase by apomine. Thus, these findings demonstrate a novel strategy for enhancing the antitumor effects of lovastatin.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pharmacol Exp Ther

Publication Date





228 - 235


Antineoplastic Agents, Apoptosis, Cell Line, Tumor, Diphosphonates, Down-Regulation, Drug Synergism, Humans, Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, Lovastatin, Mevalonic Acid, Multiple Myeloma, Phosphatidylcholines, Protein Prenylation