Immune system differences in men with hypo- or hypercholesterolemia

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1997 Aug;84(2):145-9. doi: 10.1006/clin.1997.4382.


Substantial epidemiologic evidence indicates that relative hypocholesterolemia in apparently healthy individuals is associated with increased subsequent mortality from cancer and other nonatherosclerotic causes of death. To test a hypothesis potentially underlying these unexplained associations, we evaluated whether individuals with hypo- and hypercholesterolemia differ in various enumerative and functional indices of the immune system. Nineteen healthy adult men with a mean age of 46 years and a mean total cholesterol concentration of 151 mg/dl constituted a low cholesterol group and were compared with 39 men of a similar age whose total cholesterol averaged 261 mg/dl. Relative to the high cholesterol group, hypocholesterolemic men had significantly fewer circulating lymphocytes, fewer total T cells, and fewer CD8+ cells (P's < 0.05). Trends toward fewer CD4+ cells and less IL-2 release in response to PHA were also noted in the low, compared to the high, cholesterol group. The low and high cholesterol groups did not differ in number of B lymphocytes, level of PHA-induced proliferation, number of natural killer (NK) cells, or degree of NK cytotoxicity. These data provide preliminary evidence of immune system differences in healthy individuals with hypo- and hypercholesterolemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol / deficiency*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Deficiency Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / immunology*
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol