Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cholesterol drug shows promise in fighting effects of malaria

Date:
December 27, 2012
Source:
University of Utah Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that adding lovastatin, a widely used cholesterol-lowering drug, to traditional antimalarial treatment decreases neuroinflammation and protects against cognitive impairment in a mouse model of cerebral malaria.

Researchers have discovered that adding lovastatin, a widely used cholesterol-lowering drug, to traditional antimalarial treatment decreases neuroinflammation and protects against cognitive impairment in a mouse model of cerebral malaria. Although there are differences between mouse models of cerebral malaria and human disease, these new findings indicate that statins are worthy of consideration in clinical trials of cerebral malaria, according to an article published in the Dec. 27 issue of PLOS Pathogens.

Malaria, a parasitic infection that is transmitted to humans by the female Anopheles mosquito, is one of the leading infectious diseases worldwide. Cerebral malaria is a severe, potentially fatal neurologic complication of infection by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Studies of children with cerebral malaria show that cognitive deficits, such as impaired memory, learning, language, and mathematical abilities, persist in many survivors long after the infection itself is cured.

"Over 500,000 children develop cerebral malaria each year in sub-Saharan Africa, and persistent cognitive dysfunction in survivors is not only a major public health concern, but also a significant socioeconomic burden," says Guy Zimmerman M.D., associate chair for research in the Department of Medicine at the University of Utah and senior co-author on the study. "There is an urgent and unmet medical need for therapies that treat or prevent cognitive impairment in cerebral malaria."

Statins, a class of drugs best known for their ability to lower cholesterol, have also been shown to be active in modulating a variety of immune system responses. In their research, Zimmerman and his Brazilian colleagues evaluated the effect of statins in a mouse model of cerebral malaria. The researchers found that adding a drug called lovastatin to traditional antimalarial therapy prevented cognitive dysfunction in mice infected with cerebral malaria. They discovered that addition of lovastatin decreased white blood cell accumulation and leakiness in blood vessels in the brain. Lovastatin also reduced production of damaging oxygen-containing molecules and other factors that promote inflammation.

"The molecular mechanisms that give rise to cerebral malaria and subsequent cognitive dysfunction are not yet known," says Zimmerman. "However, the fact that statin treatment decreases both injurious blood vessel inflammation and cognitive dysfunction suggests that a combination of vascular and inflammatory triggers leads to cerebral pathology and intellectual deficits."

Zimmerman and his colleagues also studied lovastatin in an experimental model of bacterial sepsis, a severe whole-body inflammatory state that can also lead to cognitive impairment. They found that lovastatin also prevented cognitive impairment after bacterial sepsis.

"Our findings are exciting because the clinical implications extend beyond cerebral malaria to other severe systemic inflammatory syndromes complicated by brain involvement," says Zimmerman. "We believe our observations are the first experimental evidence to support the possibility of using statins to reduce cognitive impairment in critically ill patients."

This study is the latest result of a long-term collaboration between Zimmerman and Dr. Hugo Castro-Faria-Neto and his group at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a Brazilian research institute dedicated to the study, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases. This collaboration began when Dr. Castro-Faria-Neto was a visiting scientist at the University of Utah. Future research will focus on additional investigation into the molecular mechanisms of cerebral malaria and the responses of key immune cells to malaria toxins, as well as on studies of the systemic inflammatory component of malaria in human patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Utah Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patricia A. Reis, Vanessa Estato, Tathiany I. da Silva, Joana C. d'Avila, Luciana D. Siqueira, Edson F. Assis, Patricia T. Bozza, Fernando A. Bozza, Eduardo V. Tibiriηa, Guy A. Zimmerman, Hugo C. Castro-Faria-Neto. Statins Decrease Neuroinflammation and Prevent Cognitive Impairment after Cerebral Malaria. PLOS Pathogens, 2012; 8 (12): e1003099 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003099

Cite This Page:

University of Utah Health Sciences. "Cholesterol drug shows promise in fighting effects of malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227173046.htm>.
University of Utah Health Sciences. (2012, December 27). Cholesterol drug shows promise in fighting effects of malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227173046.htm
University of Utah Health Sciences. "Cholesterol drug shows promise in fighting effects of malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227173046.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins