The Link Between HIV and Cholesterol

HIV is a virus which attacks and infects living cells. It is capable of altering and manuevering cellular structure to make it comfortable for its own growth. The HIV genome ( the complete set of material making up an organism) consists of nine proteins which attack immune controlling cells enabling themselves to reproduce and spread. HIV requires a protein named Nef ( negative factor) for reproduction. Nef binds itself to cholesterol and a viron ( an infective form of virus outside its host cell) is born capable of breaking loose from its host and attacking other cells.

In the early 2000’s extensive research was conducted on the HIV interruption of cholesterol activities and it was thought that this process was what caused additional complications with HIV infection such as arteriosclorosis (hardening of the arteries) and other coronary artery diseases. In 2006 it appeared that controlling the cells cholestoral count would lead to controlling the spread of the HIV virus in living cells.

Scientists today in 2011 have research demonstrating that stripping cellular cholesterol deactives the HIV virus. With normal viral infection the immune system sends out interferons (proteins released by animal cells triggered by a virus invasion which are normally capable of inhibiting that virus). Interferons are chemicals which alert the body to prepare for war. With HIV the body sends out too many interferons because of the cholesterol interruption staggering the immune system which becomes unable to defend itself.

Stripping away cholesterol at the cellular level stops the interferons from overproducing which hinders and eventually halts HIV replication. Could it be that this research will lead to dormancy stabilizers for other immune disorders like Chrons and RA (rheumatoid arthritus)?

Works cited:
Plos Biology, Gross, Liza, HIV Cholesterol Connection Suggest a New Antiretro Viral Strategy, 2006 Nov.
Bio Scholar, Scientists Tame HIV by Stripping It of Cholesterol, Sept. 29, 2011
John Hopkins Medicine, Hide-And-Seek: Altered HIV Cab’t Evade Immune System, Sept. 26, 2011

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