MAR 13, 2019 2:40 PM PDT

Dietary Cholesterol and Its Impact on Autoimmune and Infectious Disease Processes

WRITTEN BY: Dena Aruta

There has been a great deal of media coverage and controversy over the role of diet on disease processes such as autoimmunity and infection. Can dietary cholesterol intake affect the pathophysiology of immune-related inflammation and responses to pathogens? In a 2018 literature review published in the journal, Nutrients, researchers analyzed both the "significant and controversial studies on the role of dietary cholesterol and lipid metabolism in the pathophysiology of infectious disease and autoimmune disorders." 

Some of the studies reviewed evaluated effects of dietary cholesterol, especially cholesterol-rich diets found in Western countries, and showed that these diets affect inflammatory markers of the immune system and cellular cholesterol metabolism as well as act to balance the lipoprotein profiles and functional attributes of HDL. In addition, diet can influence immunomodulatory lipid pathways in different populations with varying types of metabolism. This illustrates that the "efficiency of dietary cholesterol absorption, the presence of insulin resistance, and weight loss can impact the immunomodulatory response to exogenous cholesterol." The complex mechanisms involved in these processes also suggest that they may determine the relationship between dietary cholesterol and immunity. Since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 revision doesn't limit the intake of dietary cholesterol, evaluation of its effects on processes not related to cardiovascular health is important. 

The findings from the study showed that cholesterol metabolism has a significant and complex role in regulating immunity and inflammation. When dietary cholesterol is consumed in eggs, they found that it's vital for controlling "leukocyte cholesterol metabolism, lipid raft dynamics, and inflammatory potential, while additionally modulating lipoprotein profiles and markers of HDL function." Further, findings from several studies suggested that cholesterol-rich diets affect the pathophysiology of infectious diseases caused by certain bacteria and viruses. 

While the results of the literature review have highlighted the significance of dietary cholesterol in immune-related inflammation and infectious disease, other factors need to be explored through further research. Analysis of whether the effects of "altered leukocyte cholesterol metabolism, lipoprotein profiles, or metabolic status underlie the variable effects of cholesterol-rich diet intake on infectious and autoimmune disease pathophysiology as well as effects of confounding dietary bioactives in these pathways and if other functional foods known to modulate lipid metabolism can impact immunity via similar mechanisms" needs to also be performed.

 

About the Author
  • After earning my Bachelor of Science degree in biology/chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka Va. Tech), I went on to complete clinical rotations in laboratory medicine at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. I spent the next 21 years working in healthcare as a clinical microbiologist. In 2015, I combined my fascination with medicine and passion for writing into a freelance career, and I haven't looked back. Even though my expertise is in microbiology and infectious diseases, I'm adept at writing about any medical topic. Being a freelance writer allows me to pursue a career where I can work at home with my two feline assistants, Luke and Grace. I'm a firm supporter of animal rights and volunteer for a local rescue during my free time. 
You May Also Like
JAN 28, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 28, 2020
Protein complex discovered as first biomarker of PTSD
  Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have identified a potential d...
JAN 25, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 25, 2020
Are You Still Working on Your New Year's Resolution?
There are a few cardinal rules when it comes to goal-setting, and you've probably heard them all before. Goals will be successful if they are specific-...
FEB 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 06, 2020
Concussion detector could pick up concussions in athletes, right from the sidelines
Concussions are brain traumas caused by a blow to the head or a whiplash injury. The risk of concussions are greatly heightened in athletes playing high co...
FEB 05, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
FEB 05, 2020
Should You Be Using Marijuana While Pregnant? Researchers Weigh In
Recreational marijuana use becomes increasingly common as legalization spreads across the country. That includes women who are pregnant and women in the mo...
FEB 26, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 26, 2020
Is your kid's stomach ache from appendicitis? Probably not.
Complaints about a painful belly are a common childhood lament. In such situations, the first thing that often comes to concerned parents’ minds is t...
FEB 23, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 23, 2020
Revealing More About the Genetic Mechanisms Underlying Down Syndrome
Down syndrome impacts around 6,000 live births in the US every year. Around 95% of affected individuals have a type called trisomy 21....
Loading Comments...