Oxf Open Immunol. 2020;1(1):iqaa001. doi: 10.1093/oxfimm/iqaa001. Epub 2020 Jun 18.
Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrom coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is more likely to lead to poor outcomes in the elderly and those with cardiovascular disease, obesity or metabolic syndrome. Here, we consider mechanisms by which dyslipidaemia and the use of cholesterol-modifying drugs could influence the virus-host relationship. Cholesterol is essential for the assembly, replication and infectivity of enveloped virus particles; we highlight several cholesterol-modifying drugs with the potential to alter the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle that could be tested in in vitro and in vivo models. Although cholesterol is an essential component of immune cell membranes, excess levels can dysregulate protective immunity and promote exaggerated pulmonary and systemic inflammatory responses. Statins block the production of multiple sterols, oxysterols and isoprenoids, resulting in a pleiotropic range of context-dependent effects on virus infectivity, immunity and inflammation. We highlight antiviral, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of cholesterol-modifying drugs that merit further consideration in the management of SARS-CoV-2 infection.