Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lovastatin: A New Weapon Against Plague?

We know that, Lovastatin is a member of the drug class of statins,  used for lowering  cholesterol (hypolipidemic agent) in those with hypercholesterolemia and so preventing cardiovascular disease. Lovastatin is a naturally occurring drug found in food such as oyster mushrooms  and red yeast rice.

Now scientists at the Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (CNRS/Université Aix-Marseille 2), have found that Lovastatin protects animals against the deadly effects of plague.

After inoculating small rodents with the Yersinia pestis bacterium, the team led by Didier Raoult and Michel Drancourt at the URMITE (CNRS/Université Aix-Marseille 2) showed that animals treated with lovastatin presented fewer and less severe infections. Lovastatin therefore has preventive properties against plague mortality in an animal model. This experimental study also reveals that this statin has no direct antibiotic effect against Yersinia pestis but that it prevents the development of septicemia.  

Researchers conclude that Lovastatin had no in-vitro antibiotic effect against Y. pestis. The difference in the mortality between control mice (11/15; 73.5%) and lovastatin-treated mice (3/15; 20%) was significant (P<0.004; Mantel-Haenszel test). Dead mice exhibited Y. pestis septicemia and inflammatory destruction of lung and spleen tissues not seen in lovastatin-treated surviving mice. These data suggest that lovastatin may help prevent the deadly effects of plague, with a caution that field observations are warranted to assess the role of lovastatin in the prophylaxis of human plague....

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