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Human Fats: A Link Between Leprosy And Atherosclerosis?

Date:
July 17, 2008
Source:
Journal of Clinical Investigation
Summary:
Leprosy is caused by the microbe Mycobacterium leprae, which lives inside cells and survives by both evading the immune system and using human fat molecules (lipids) to promote its growth and virulence.

Leprosy is caused by the microbe Mycobacterium leprae, which lives inside cells and survives by both evading the immune system and using human fat molecules (lipids) to promote its growth and virulence.

A link between these two factors influencing M. leprae survival in the lesions that characterize disease in individuals with the lepromatous form of human leprosy (L-lep) has now been uncovered by Robert Modlin and colleagues, at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

In the study, expression of genes containing the information for making proteins involved in lipid metabolism (the production and breakdown of lipids) was observed in human L-lep lesions. Consistent with this, the lipid-laden cells (specifically macrophages) in human L-lep lesions that are known to harbor M. leprae were found to accumulate human lipids known as oxidized phospholipids.

Further in vitro analysis indicated that some of these oxidized phospholipids inhibited innate immune responses. The accumulation of macrophages laden with human oxidized phospholipids in L-lep lesions is strikingly similar to what is observed in the lesions that narrow the blood vessels in the disease atherosclerosis -- a common disease of the major arterial blood vessels that can result in heart attack or stroke.

These similarities have led the authors to suggest that in both microbial infection and atherosclerosis there is a link between innate immunity and human lipid metabolism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Clinical Investigation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Host-derived oxidized phospholipids and HDL regulate innate immunity in human leprosy. Journal of Clinical Investigation, July 18, 2008

Cite This Page:

Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Human Fats: A Link Between Leprosy And Atherosclerosis?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717180102.htm>.
Journal of Clinical Investigation. (2008, July 17). Human Fats: A Link Between Leprosy And Atherosclerosis?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717180102.htm
Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Human Fats: A Link Between Leprosy And Atherosclerosis?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717180102.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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