Cholesterol and pathogens

Tatiana M. Clemente, Stacey D. Gilk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cholesterol is an essential component of eukaryotic cell membranes as it affects membrane structural integrity, order, and permeability. Since cholesterol plays an integral role in many cell processes, intracellular pathogens subvert cholesterol at all steps of host cell colonization. Several pathogens target cholesterol-rich microdomains of the plasma membrane to promote their entry, egress, or spread to other cells. Cholesterol is often recruited to pathogen-containing vacuoles to support pathogen replication. Regardless of their intracellular niche, pathogens specifically target cholesterol metabolism, storage, and efflux to acquire cholesterol. Lipoproteins, which are the main cholesterol carriers in the blood, can protect the host against a variety of viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Thus, changes in lipoprotein plasma levels are frequently associated with the increased risk of infectious diseases. As cholesterol triggers inflammatory responses, it can directly affect the immune response against intracellular pathogens. Accordingly, cholesterol-lowering drugs are attractive candidates for host-directed therapy against many infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCholesterol
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Chemistry and Biophysics to the Clinic
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9780323858571
ISBN (Print)9780323858588
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Bacteria
  • Cholesterol metabolism
  • Cholesterol-lowering agents
  • Cholesterol-rich microdomains
  • Infection
  • Infectious diseases
  • Lipid droplets
  • Lipoproteins
  • Parasite
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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