There is emerging evidence identifying microRNAs (miRNAs) as mediators of statininduced cholesterol efflux, notably through the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) in macrophages. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of an HMG- CoA reductase inhibitor, pitavastatin, on macrophage miRNAs in the presence and absence of oxidized-LDL, a hallmark of a pro-atherogenic milieu. Treatment of human THP-1 cells with pitavastatin prevented the oxLDL-mediated suppression of miR-33a, -33b and -758 mRNA in these cells, an effect which was not uniquely attributable to induction of SREBP2. Induction of ABCA1 mRNA and protein by oxLDL was inhibited (30%) by pitavastatin, while oxLDL or pitavastatin alone significantly induced and repressed ABCA1 expression, respectively. These findings are consistent with previous reports in macrophages. miRNA profiling was also performed using a miRNA array. We identified specific miRNAs which were up-regulated (122) and down-regulated (107) in THP-1 cells treated with oxLDL plus pitavastatin versus oxLDL alone, indicating distinct regulatory networks in these cells. Moreover, several of the differentially expressed miRNAs identified are functionally associated with cholesterol trafficking (six miRNAs in cells treated with oxLDL versus oxLDL plus pitavastatin). Our findings indicate that pitavastatin can differentially modulate miRNA in the presence of oxLDL; and, our results provide evidence that the net effect on cholesterol homeostasis is mediated by a network of miRNAs.
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