Apart from lowering the cholesterol levels, drugs like statins or Ezetimibe can be used effectively in providing protection against infectious diseases like typhoid fever, Chlamydia and malaria, researchers said. The findings inferred into the mechanisms that study human vulnerability to infectious disease and point towards possible way outs to protect against disease causing microorganisms like Salmonella or Ebola, which hijack cholesterol to infect host cells.
"This is just the first step," said Dennis C. Ko, Assistant Professor at the Duke University in the US.
"Our study provides a blueprint for combining different techniques for understanding why some people are more susceptible to disease than others, and what can be done about it," Ko added.
The study, appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that some people may be more susceptible to the highly contagious disease through a gene variant -- VAC14 -- which affects cholesterol levels.
This mutation was found to raise cholesterol levels which binds Salmonella Typhi, the culprit behind the potentially deadly infection, to a person's cells, thus increasing the risk of typhoid fever.
According to World Health Organisation estimates, nearly 21 million cases and 222,000 typhoid-related deaths occur annually worldwide.
"Discovering the mechanism was important because plenty of people are on cholesterol-lowering drugs, especially statins, for high cholesterol," Ko said.
"We wondered if similar drugs could be given to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection," Ko noted.
Furthermore, other common cholesterol-lowering drug like Ezetimibe were found to protect zebrafish against Salmonella Typhi.
The researchers stressed on the need to increase approach in different model organisms like mice, and likely with various microorganisms before taking it into clinical consideration.
(With IANS Inputs)