Embargo expired: 11/17/2010 12:00 PM EST
Prior research had described various anti-inflammatory properties of statins, suggesting that these effects could contribute to a reduction in disease severity during severe infections. Nizet and Glass explored a different hypothesis: That statins might actually aid the body in clearing itself of infectious microbes. The researchers focused onStaphyloccocus aureus, more commonly called “staph,” a frequently antibiotic-resistant human pathogen responsible for everything from minor skin infections to life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. Mice treated with statins were more resistant to staph infections, and phagocytes isolated from these mice were more effective at killing staph bacteria. Simple exposure of freshly isolated human white blood cells to statins in a test tube markedly increased their ability to kill staph and other important disease causing bacteria. In each case, the increased killing correlated with greater release of the DNA-based extracellular traps by the phagocytes.