Cholesterol is essential for cell function and viability. It is a component of the plasma membrane and lipid rafts and is a precursor for bile acids, steroid hormones, and Vitamin D. As a ligand for estrogen-related receptor alpha (ESRRA), cholesterol becomes a signaling molecule. Furthermore, cholesterol-derived oxysterols activate liver X receptors (LXRs) or estrogen receptors (ERs). Several studies performed in cancer cells reveal that cholesterol synthesis is enhanced compared to normal cells. Additionally, high serum cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk for many cancers, but thus far, clinical trials with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) have had mixed results. Statins inhibit cholesterol synthesis within cells through the inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme in the mevalonate and cholesterol synthetic pathway. Many downstream products of mevalonate have a role in cell proliferation, since they are required for maintenance of membrane integrity; signaling, as some proteins to be active must undergo prenylation; protein synthesis, as isopentenyladenine is an essential substrate for the modification of certain tRNAs; and cell-cycle progression. In this review starting from recent acquired findings on the role that cholesterol and its metabolites fulfill in the contest of cancer cells, we discuss the results of studies focused to investigate the use of statins in order to prevent cancer growth and metastasis.
Chimento, Adele;Casaburi, Ivan;Avena, Paola;De Luca, Arianna;Rago, Vittoria;Pezzi, Vincenzo;Sirianni, Rosa
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