Pitavastatin enhanced BMP-2 and osteocalcin expression by inhibition of rho-associated kinase in human osteoblasts

Keizo Ohnaka, Seiko Shimoda, Hajime Nawata, Hiroaki Shimokawa, Kozo Kaibuchi, Yukihide Iwamoto, Ryoichi Takayanagi

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191 Citations (Scopus)


To clarify the mechanism of the stimulatory effect of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) on bone formation, we investigated the effect of pitavastatin, a newly developed statin, on expression of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and osteocalcin in primary cultured human osteoblasts. Pitavastatin increased the expression level of mRNA for BMP-2, and much more effectively for osteocalcin. This stimulatory effect was abolished by the addition of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, an essential molecule for prenylation of small GTP-binding proteins such as Rho GTPase, but not by inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase and various protein kinases. Pitavastatin suppressed the Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase) activity. Hydroxyfasudil, a specific inhibitor of Rho-kinase, increased BMP-2 and osteocalcin expression. These mRNA levels were strongly suppressed by dexamethasone, but restored by co-treatment with hydroxyfasudil. These observations suggest that the Rho-kinase negatively regulates bone formation and the inhibition of Rho and Rho-kinase pathway is the major mechanism of the statin effect on bone. Moreover, a Rho-kinase inhibitor may be a new therapeutic reagent for the treatment of osteoporosis such as glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-342
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 21 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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