14 June 2019

Hypercholesterolemia is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Statins are the most widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs. However, despite treatment with statins, many patients with elevated cholesterol levels will still develop cardiovascular disease. Currently it is apparent that not only cholesterol but also the immune system plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis, but how cholesterol and the immune system interact is still unravelled.

Siroon Bekkering, theme Vascular damage, with colleagues from Amsterdam and Rotterdam investigated the activity of part of the immune system in individuals with and without high cholesterol levels. It appeared that specific immune cells in the blood (‘monocytes’) were more activated in patients with high cholesterol levels than in individuals with normal cholesterol levels; these cells produced more inflammatory molecules that are important in the development of cardiovascular disease. Subsequently, the patients with high cholesterol were treated with statins to lower their cholesterol levels and the same measurements were repeated three months later. Importantly, despite cholesterol lowering, the hyperactivity of the immune cells did not decrease at all.

Niels Riksen, theme Vascular damage, coordinator of the project states that “we thus observed that these immune cells appear to ‘remember’ the high cholesterol, they once were exposed to. The finding that monocytes can remember previous exposures has only recently been discovered, and has been termed ‘trained immunity’, and this is the first study to demonstrate this in patients.” According to Riksen it would be interesting to investigate now how long this memory lasts and also whether the hyperactivity of the monocytes can be reduced by other drug types, such as anti-inflammatory drug.

Source: Bekkering S, Stiekema LCA, Bernelot Moens S, Verweij SL, Novakovic B, Prange K, Versloot M, Roeters van Lennep JE, Stunnenberg H, de Winther M, Stroes ESG, Joosten LAB, Netea MG, Riksen NP. Treatment with statins does not revert trained immunity in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia. Cell Metab 2019 [in press]

Related news items

4,8 million euros for prevention of tuberculosis among people with diabetes in Africa

16 July 2019

Reinout van Crevel and Lindsey te Brake have received European funding of 4.8 million euros to lead an international consortium to screen thousands of people with diabetes in Uganda and Tanzania for TB, and investigate the effect and costs of 3 months preventive treatment for TB.

read more

50.000 grant for Paul de Jonge and Harry Dolstra

15 July 2019

Paul de Jonge and Harry Dolstra, theme Cancer development and immune defense, received a €50.000,- (NWA-IDG) grant for their project regarding cancer immunotherapy.

read more

Handbook of biomarkers and precision medicine a new publication by Alain van Gool

12 July 2019

Alain van Gool published a new handbook on biomarkers and applications in (pre)clinical drug development for precision medicine.

read more

The real impact of menstrual complaints on work and school productivity

8 July 2019

Menstrual period symptoms may be linked to nearly nine days of lost productivity every year, through presenteeism, suggests the largest study of its kind, published in the journal BMJ Open. But the real impact on women and society is underestimated and poorly appreciated, say the researchers.

read more

Successful Summer School by CMBI, TML and Human Genetics

8 July 2019

CMBI, TML and Human Genetics organized a successful Summer School on 'Integrative X-omics Analyses Empowering Personalized Healthcare'.

read more

Walking for science Research by Radboud university medical center and Radboud University during the Vierdaagse (Four Day Marches)

5 July 2019

The Vierdaagse is a unique opportunity to conduct research into physical activity and healthy lifestyle.

read more