Sickle cell disease (SCD) is characterized by intravascular hemolysis and inflammation coupled to a 400-fold greater incidence of invasive pneumococcal infection resulting in fulminant, lethal pneumococcal sepsis. Mechanistically, invasive infection is facilitated by a proinflammatory state that enhances receptor-mediated endocytosis of pneumococci into epithelial and endothelial cells. As statins reduce chronic inflammation, in addition to their serum cholesterol-lowering effects, we hypothesized that statin therapy might improve the outcome of pneumococcal infection in SCD. In this study, we tested this hypothesis in an experimental SCD mouse model and found that statin therapy prolonged survival following pneumococcal challenge. The protective effect resulted in part from decreased platelet-activating factor receptor expression on endothelia and epithelia, which led to reduced bacterial invasion. An additional protective effect resulted from inhibition of host cell lysis by pneumococcal cholesterol-dependent cytotoxins (CDCs), including pneumolysin. We conclude therefore that statins may be of prophylactic benefit against invasive pneumococcal disease in patients with SCD and, more broadly, in settings of bacterial pathogenesis driven by receptor-mediated endocytosis and the CDC class of toxins produced by Gram-positive invasive bacteria.
Jason W. Rosch, Angela R. Boyd, Ernesto Hinojosa, Tamara Pestina, Yunming Hu, Derek A. Persons, Carlos J. Orihuela, Elaine I. Tuomanen
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.