A Statin's Role in Uterine Fibroid Treatment

November 21, 2014

What does a cholesterol medication have to do with uterine fibroid tumors? New animal research explains one drug's effect on uterine leiomyoma cells.

In laboratory tests, simvastatin appears to impede the growth of uterine leiomyoma cells, leading researchers to suggest the common cholesterol drug may be a tool in fighting uterine fibroid tumors in women.

Key Points:

- Simvastatin, the cholesterol drug, could have a role in fighting non-cancerous uterine fibroids.

- In laboratory
tests in animals, researchers found the common cholesterol medication appeared to slow the cell growth of the fibroids.

Researchers found the tumor-fighting powers of the drug worked through a combination of ways. The drug appeared to inhibit extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, a key component in the molecular pathway that leads to the growth of new cells. In addition, the anti-cholesterol medication was shown to stop the progression of tumor cells that have already begun to grow while also inducing calcium-dependent cell death mechanisms in fibroid tumor cells.

"Taken together, this study has identified a novel pathway by which simvastatin induces the death of uterine fibroid tumor cells." said one of the authors, Darren Boehning, in a news release.

The anti-tumor properties of simvastatin will continued to be studied by the research team, with ongoing investigations focusing on testing the use of the drug to treat fibroid in animals, meaning human clinical application isn’t in the immediate future.

Still, the authors suggest that if the drug continues to prove its ability to fight non-cancerous uterine fibroids, the result could have a lasting impact on preventing hysterectomies.

The findings will be published in the January print edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry but have already been published on the journal’s website. The online report is available for free.