A pilot window-of-opportunity study of preoperative fluvastatin in localized prostate cancer

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Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease (March 2020);

DOI: 10.1038/s41391-020-0221-7


Longo J, Hamilton RJ, Masoomian M, Khurram N, Branchard E, Mullen PJ, Elbaz M, Hersey K, Chadwick D, Ghai S, Andrews DW, Chen EX, van der Kwast TH, Felshner NE, Penn LZ.


Statins inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway. Epidemiological and pre-clinical evidence support an association between statin use and delayed prostate cancer (PCa) progression. Here, we evaluated the effects of neoadjuvant fluvastatin treatment on markers of cell proliferation and apoptosis in men with localized PCa.


Thirty-three men were treated daily with 80 mg fluvastatin for 4–12 weeks in a single-arm window-of-opportunity study between diagnosis of localized PCa and radical prostatectomy (RP) (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01992042). Percent Ki67 and cleaved Caspase-3 (CC3)-positive cells in tumor tissues were evaluated in 23 patients by immunohistochemistry before and after treatment. Serum and intraprostatic fluvastatin concentrations were quantified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.


Baseline characteristics included a median prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 6.48 ng/mL (IQR: 4.21–10.33). The median duration of fluvastatin treatment was 49 days (range: 27–102). Median serum low-density lipoprotein levels decreased by 35% after treatment, indicating patient compliance. Median PSA decreased by 12%, but this was not statistically significant in our small cohort. The mean fluvastatin concentration measured in the serum was 0.2 μM (range: 0.0–1.1 μM), and in prostatic tissue was 8.5 nM (range: 0.0–77.0 nM). At these concentrations, fluvastatin induced PCa cell death in vitro in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In patients, fluvastatin treatment did not significantly alter intratumoral Ki67 positivity; however, a median 2.7-fold increase in CC3 positivity (95% CI: 1.9–5.0, p = 0.007) was observed in post-fluvastatin RP tissues compared with matched pre-treatment biopsy controls. In a subset analysis, this increase in CC3 was more pronounced in men on fluvastatin for >50 days.


Fluvastatin prior to RP achieves measurable drug concentrations in prostatic tissue and is associated with promising effects on tumor cell apoptosis. These data warrant further investigation into the anti-neoplastic effects of statins in prostate tissue.