The cardioprotective effect of a statin and cilostazol combination: Relationship to Akt and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation

Saraswathy Manickavasagam, Yumei Ye, Yu Lin, Regino J. Perez-Polo, Ming He Huang, Charles Y. Lui, Michael G. Hughes, David J. McAdoo, Barry F. Uretsky, Yochai Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Atorvastatin (ATV) protects against ischemia-reperfusion by upregulating Akt and subsequently, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) phosphorylation at Ser-1177. However, when given orally, high doses of ATV (10 mg/kg/d) are needed to achieve maximal protective effect in the rat. Protein kinase A (PKA) also phosphorylates eNOS at Ser-1177. As PKA activity depends on cAMP, cilostazol (CIL), a phosphodiesterase type III inhibitor, may stimulate NO production by activating PKA. Hypothesis: CIL and ATV may have synergistic effects on eNOS phosphorylation and myocardial infarct size (IS) reduction. Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats received 3-day oral pretreatment with: (1) water; (2) low dose ATV (2 mg/kg/d); (3) CIL (20 mg/kg/d): (4) ATV+CIL. Rats underwent 30 min coronary artery occlusion and 4 h reperfusion, or hearts explanted for immunoblotting without being subjected to ischemia. Area at risk (AR) was assessed by blue dye and IS by triphenyl-tetrazolium-chloride. Results: Body weight and the size of AR were comparable among groups. There were no significant differences among groups in mean blood pressure and heart rate. CIL, but not ATV, reduced IS. IS in the ATV+CIL group was significantly smaller than the other three groups (P<0.001 for each comparison). ATV, CIL and their combination did not affect total eNOS expression. ATV at 2 mg/kg/d did not affect Ser-1177 P-eNOS levels, whereas CIL increased it (258±15%). The level of myocardial P-eNOS levels was highest in the ATV+CIL group (406±7%). Conclusions: ATV and CIL have synergistic effect on eNOS phosphorylation and IS reduction. By increased activation of eNOS, CIL may augment the pleiotropic effects of statins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-330
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Adenosine
  • Atorvastatin
  • Cilostazol
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Infarct size
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • Protein kinase A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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