Cholesterol Linked to Infections
Lowering cholesterol may help fight viral infections, according to researchers.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh say they have discovered a direct link between the bodys immune system and cholesterol levels. Scientists tested the link on mice and found that lowering cholesterol helps the body resist infection.
It found cholesterol produced by a person's cells is needed for viruses and certain bacteria to grow, and limiting the body's production of cholesterol would curb the opportunity for viruses to thrive.
"What we have discovered is that a key immune hormone stimulated upon infection can lower cholesterol levels and thereby deprive viral infections of the sustenance they need to grow," said Edinburgh's Peter Ghazal, whose study was published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology journal.
"Drugs currently exist to lower cholesterol levels, but the next step would be to see if such drugs would also work to help bolster our immune systems," he said.
Drugs that are part of a group called statins have been known to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease as well as stroke. Many of these drugs including Pfizer's Lipitor, AstraZeneca's Crestor, and a generic called simvastatin, are widely prescribed.
The researchers said the preliminary findings could help find new ways to fight infections and overcome problems of drug resistance.