Statins, which are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase competitive inhibitors, not only lower blood cholesterol, but also exert pleiotropic and beneficial effects in various diseases. However, the effects of statins on acute lung injury (ALI) induced by hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) have not been investigated. The present study is the first to investigate the effects of simvastatin in ALI induced by HBO in 8 – 9 week old C57BL/6 mice exposed to 0.23 MPa (= 2.3 atmosphere absolute (ATA)) hyperoxia ( 95% O2) for 6 hrs. Mice were either given simvastatin (20 mg/kg/day) in saline or a saline vehicle for 3 days before oxygen exposure. Lung tissue, serum, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were collected for analysis of pro-apoptotic proteins, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, and lung inflammation. Simvastatin treatment significantly reduced lung permeability, serum LDL-C levels, tissue apoptosis, and inflammation. However, simvastatin treatment had no effect on antioxidant enzyme activity, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 4 (NADPH4) expression, and Akt phosphorylation levels. Furthermore, we investigated the role of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in simvastatin protection through inhibiting eNOS activity with NG-Nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 20 mg/kg). Results showed that the beneficial effects of simvastatin on ALI induced by HBO (anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, lipid-lowering, and reduction in lung permeability) were reversed. These results showed that simvastatin curbs HBO-induced lung edema, permeability, inflammation, and apoptosis via upregulating eNOS expression, and that simvastatin could be an effective therapy to treat prolonged HBO exposure.

Bao, Mao, Fang, Fan, Wang, Ma, You, , (2017). Simvastatin Decreases Hyperoxic Oxygen-Induced Acute Lung Injury by Upregulating eNOS. American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology, 2017 Oct;():ajplung005202016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29074491