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Study Assesses Statin Efficacy in Pneumococcal Disease

Findings suggests a role for statins in protecting individuals with sickle cell

TUESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The use of statins might help protect individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) from pneumococcal disease, according to research published online Jan. 19 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Jason W. Rosch, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues analyzed data from a mouse model of SCD. The authors note that children with SCD have a 400-fold higher risk of fatal pneumococcal sepsis than healthy children.

The researchers found that SCD mice rapidly died following pneumococcal challenge; however, SCD mice treated with simvastatin beforehand had a significantly longer time to death, a finding not seen in wild-type mice. Statin treatment also reduced bacteria in the lungs and bloodstream at 24 hours in SCD mice. Protection was due partly to lower expression of platelet-activating factor receptor on epithelia and endothelia, as well as reduced host cell lysis from pneumolysin and other cholesterol-dependent cytotoxins, the investigators concluded.

"Collectively, the multiple points of inhibition of pathogenesis afforded by statins in the context of pneumococcal challenge suggest that statin prophylaxis might not only decrease the heightened susceptibility of children with SCD to lethal pneumococcal disease but also attenuate progression of bacterial invasion in other settings of chronic inflammation, such as in individuals with chronic pulmonary or vascular inflammation that elevates the risk of pneumonia. These findings support clinical investigation of the protective efficacy of statins in children with SCD," the authors write.

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