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Mevalonate signaling, COPD and cancer: the statins and beyond
  1. Raewyn J Hopkins,
  2. Robert P Young
  1. Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Robert P Young, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences University of Auckland Auckland New Zealand ; roberty{at}


Evidence suggests that smoking confers a persistent and/or exaggerated inflammatory response in the lungs that, with underlying genetic susceptibility, may result in lung remodeling and impaired repair. The innate immune response to smoking described above, which is modified by the mevalonate pathway, provides a plausible pathogenic link between the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. The mevalonate pathway modifies innate responsiveness through important intracellular signaling molecules called guanine phosphate transferases (GTPases) such as Rho-A. Smoke exposure activates cell surface proteins which, through the mediating influence of GTPases, then modifies the activation of nuclear factor kappa -light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFĸB) its downstream effects on genes underlying innate immunity, neutrophilic inflammation and carcinogenesis. The mevalonate pathway is modifiable through the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-Coenzyme A (HMGCo-A) reductase. This enzyme controls the rate limiting step of the mevalonate pathway and is subject to inhibition by statin drugs (HMGCo-A reductase inhibitors) and small chain fatty acids derived from high dietary fiber intake. Ths, inhibitory effect dampens the innate immune response to smoking and may modify pulmonary inflammation and lung remodeling. This article is a symposia summary outlining the preclinical and clinical data suggesting that statins and a high-fiber diet may have a chemopreventive effect on lung cancer.

  • mevalonate signalling
  • COPD
  • lung cancer
  • statins
  • innate immunity

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  • Contributors RJH and RPY contributed equally to the preparation of this report.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer RJH will receive a travel scholarship to attend the Experimental Biology Conference.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.