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Lipid mediator linked to good cholesterol may reduce inflammation


Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have discovered that HDL in blood carries a protein that powerfully regulates immune function. Together they play an important role in preventing inflammation in the body.

A lipid molecule called sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a key regulator of vascular function, is bound to HDL. But until this study, researchers did not know what specific function HDL-bound S1P served. The team studied mice that lacked HDL-bound S1P and discovered the mice developed worse inflammation in a model of multiple sclerosis. The reason for this, the investigators found, is that HDL-bound S1P suppresses the formation of T and B immune cells in the bone marrow. While both immune cells help fight infection, an overabundance of these cells can also trigger unwanted inflammation.

Results of mouse model studies sometimes do not translate to humans and may be years away from being a marketable treatment. The authors argue that the findings suggest that molecules that mimic HDL-bound S1P could be useful in reducing damaging inflammation that has gone awry. While such molecules are not known and will need to be developed in the future, Gilenya, a related S1P1 receptor inhibitor, has been approved for use in multiple sclerosis.

In the study was published in the journal Nature.

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