BACKGROUND: A substantial proportion of patients with heart failure have a normal ejection fraction and diastolic dysfunction. However, there are few data available to guide the therapy of these patients. The effects of statins on cardiac remodeling are well documented in animal models and it is reported that statin therapy revealed a survival benefit in patients with diastolic heart failure (DHF). However, the exact mechanisms of statins possibly explaining the decreased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with DHF have not been elucidated. METHODS: We used 8-week-old male C57BL/6J mice, in which angiotensin II was subcutaneously infused for 4 weeks to mimic cardiac remodeling and fibrosis. They were treated with either normal saline or pravastatin in daily doses, which did not lower the serum cholesterol levels and blood pressure. RESULTS: Pravastatin improved diastolic dysfunction in angiotensin II-induced hypertensive mice, which was associated with the amelioration of left ventricular hypertrophy and remodeling. However, statin treatment showed no effect on the increased systolic blood pressure or cholesterol levels by angiotensin II infusion. The cardioprotective effects of pravastatin were closely associated with the downregulation of collagen I, transforming growth factor-beta, matrix metalloproteinases-2 and -3, atrial natriuretic factor, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, ROCK1 gene expression, and the upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene expression. CONCLUSIONS: The beneficial effects of pravastatin on DHF and structural remodeling are through cholesterol- independent mechanism of statins or "pleiotropic" effects of statins involving improving or restoring endothelial function and decreasing vascular inflammation. These findings suggest the potential involvement of ROCK1. Thus, treatment with pravastatin might be beneficial in patients with DHF.
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