Formation of macrophage foam cells, cholesterol-filled immune cells that accumulate in arterial walls during atherosclerosis, is linked with unexpected suppression, rather than activation, of inflammatory genes, according to a research team led by investigators at the University of California, San Diego (Spann NJ et al. Cell. 2012;151:138-152).
In mice that did not express the low-density lipoprotein receptor and that were fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, desmosterol (an intermediate in the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway) accumulated within these foam cells and suppressed the expression of genes that promote inflammation. Desmosterol was abundant in human atherosclerotic lesions obtained from the lower extremities of 3 patients.
Hampton T. Inflammation and Atherosclerosis. JAMA. 2012;308(17):1729. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14656