Introduction: There is still no effective treatment for heart failure with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (HFpEF), and therapies to improve prognosis are urgently needed. Clinical studies in patients with HFpEF have shown that statins and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors may reduce their mortality rate. However, the mechanisms underlying the effects of statins on HFpEF remain unknown. In the present study, we examined whether simvastatin administration inhibits the development of cardiac fibrosis in HFpEF model mice. We further examined the contribution of the Smad and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway in the development of HFpEF. Methods: HFpEF animals were prepared by feeding C57BL/6 N mice a high-fat diet and providing water containing N[w]-nitro-<sc>l</sc>-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (<sc>l</sc>-NAME) for 15 weeks. Simvastatin (30 mg/kg/day) or vehicle was administered orally daily during the experimental period. Cardiac function was measured by echocardiography, and cardiac fibrosis was evaluated by Masson’s trichrome staining. Changes in the TGF-β signaling proteins in myocardial tissue were examined by Western blotting. Results: A high-fat diet and <sc>l</sc>-NAME solution load induced cardiac diastolic dysfunction with cardiac fibrosis. Simvastatin treatment markedly attenuated cardiac fibrosis and reduced cardiac diastolic dysfunction. In addition, simvastatin prevented the increase in phosphorylation levels of Smad (Smad2 and Smad3) and MAPK (c-Raf, Erk1/2) pathway proteins downstream of the TGF-β receptor in cardiac tissue. Conclusions: Our present study demonstrated that simvastatin attenuated diastolic dysfunction by reducing cardiac fibrosis in HFpEF hearts. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the mechanisms by which simvastatin attenuates HFpEF development involve, at least in part, inhibition of the TGF-β signaling pathway, which is activated in the HFpEF heart.

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