A drug to lower cholesterol may also be an effective treatment for acute optic neuritis, a study has shown.
Simvastatin is normally used to treat high cholesterol but researchers believe that it may reduce the immune response in multiple sclerosis that causes damage to myelin and creates optic neuritis.
However, by slowing the immune system, simvastatin prevents macrophages from killing pathogens, while enhancing the production of cytokines that cause sustained inflammation.
This was found when macrophages were incubated with staphylococcus aureas, a pathogen found on the skin and upper airways.
When infection manifested itself, researchers treated the macrophages with simvastatin and observed that the macrophages were significantly impaired in their ability to remove pathogens and get rid of inflammation.
Codima Baldari, a scientist from the Department of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Siena, stated: "Our understanding of how these drugs affect the immune system should help maximise the benefits of these excellent drugs."
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