Clinical observations have suggested that statins — 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors — which are approved for reducing cholesterol, may also be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, but the mechanisms involved have been unclear. In November 7 Nature, Sawsan Youssef and colleagues at Stanford University, California, USA, show that the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, atorvastatin, promotes a Th2 bias and reverses paralysis in central nervous system autoimmune disease (Nature, 420:78-84, November 7, 2002).

Youssef et al. tested the effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor) in chronic and relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice — a multiple sclerosis model. They observed that oral atorvastatin administration prevented or reversed chronic and relapsing paralysis. Statin treatment suppressed MHC class II upregulation in vivo and inhibited APC upregulation of co-stimulatory molecule. In addition, they showed that statin treatment promoted differentiation of Th2 cells, which were biologically active in regulating Th1-mediated autoimmune...

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