Backgrounds: A major side effect of statin, a widely used drug to treat hyperlipidemia, is skeletal myopathy through cell apoptosis. The aim of this study is to investigate the roles of microRNA in statin-induced injury.

Methods: Apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE-/-) mice were administered with simvastatin (20 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks. Exercise capacity was evaluated by hanging grid test, forelimb grip strength, and running tolerance test.

Results: In cultured skeletal muscle cells, statin increased the levels of miR-1a but decreased the levels of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 1 (MAP3K1) in a time or dose dependent manner. Both computational target-scan analysis and luciferase gene reporter assay indicated that MAP3K1 is the target gene of miR-1a. Statin induced cell apoptosis of skeletal muscle cells, but abolished by downregulating of miR-1a or upregulation of MAP3K1. Further, the effects of miR-1a inhibition on statin-induced cell apoptosis were ablated by MAP3K1 siRNA. In ApoE-/- mice, statin induced cell apoptosis of skeletal muscle cells and decreased exercise capacity in mice infected with vector, but not in mice with lentivirus-mediated miR-1a gene silence.

Conclusion: Statin causes skeletal injury through induction of miR-1a excessive expression to decrease MAP3K1 gene expression.