Statins defend against fungus-caused sepsis

From San Francisco, at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

When a blood infection causes an inflammatory reaction that attacks the entire circulatory system, the result is a condition called sepsis that’s fatal about 40 percent of the time. A new study suggests that sepsis brought on by a fungal infection is less lethal in people taking cholesterol-lowering pills called statins than in those not getting the drugs.

Physician Graeme Forrest of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore says that he noticed reports suggesting that statins improve the survival chances of people who had sepsis triggered by bacterial infections.

To see whether there was a similar effect for fungus-triggered sepsis, Forrest and his Maryland colleague Angela Kopack examined the records of 35 patients with fungal-induced sepsis treated at the medical center between 2003 and 2005. Of these people, 12 were taking statins upon admission to the hospital and 23 were not. Patients in both groups had similar rates of heart and kidney disease and tended to be elderly.

After 30 days of treatment, people who had been taking statins were three times as likely to have survived their attacks of sepsis as were those not getting the drugs. That benefit held up 100 days after sepsis was diagnosed, the researchers report. The preliminary finding suggests the need for further study of whether statins were indeed responsible for the survival advantage, Forrest says.

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