Topical mevastatin promotes wound healing by inhibiting the transcription factor c-Myc via the glucocorticoid receptor and the long non-coding RNA Gas5.J Biol Chem. 2018 01 26; 293(4):1439-1449.JB
Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), a life-threatening complication of diabetes mellitus, have limited treatment options, often resulting in amputations. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors such as statins are cholesterol-reducing agents that may provide a new therapeutic option. Statins target the cholesterol pathway and block the synthesis of the wound-healing inhibitors farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) and cortisol, ligands for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Here we demonstrate that the naturally occurring statin mevastatin reverses FPP's effects and promotes healing by using in vitro wound healing assays, human ex vivo and porcine in vivo wound models, and DFU tissue. Moreover, we measured cortisol levels by ELISA and found that mevastatin inhibited cortisol synthesis in keratinocytes and biopsies from patients with DFU. Of note, topical mevastatin stimulated epithelialization and angiogenesis in vivo Mevastatin also reversed FPP-mediated induction of the GR target, the transcription factor c-Myc (a biomarker of non-healing wounds), in porcine and human wound models. Importantly, mevastatin reversed c-Myc overexpression in DFUs. It induced expression of the long noncoding RNA Gas5 that blocks c-Myc expression, which was confirmed by overexpression studies. We conclude that topical mevastatin accelerates wound closure by promoting epithelialization via multiple mechanisms: modulation of GR ligands and induction of the long noncoding RNA Gas5, leading to c-Myc inhibition. In light of these findings, we propose that repurposing statin drugs for topical treatment of DFUs may offer another option for managing this serious condition.