The Intracellular Cholesterol Landscape: Dynamic Integrator of the Immune Response.
Cholesterol has typically been considered an exogenous, disease-related factor in immunity; however, recent literature suggests that a paradigm shift is in order. Sterols are now recognized to ligate several immune receptors. Altered flux through the mevalonic acid synthesis pathway also appears to be a required event in the antiviral interferon (IFN) response of macrophages and in the activation, proliferation, and differentiation of T cells. In this review, evidence is discussed that suggests an intrinsic, 'professional' role for sterols and oxysterols in macrophage and T-cell immunity. Host defense may have been the original selection pressure behind the development of mechanisms for intracellular cholesterol homeostasis. Functional coupling between sterol metabolism and immunity has fundamental implications for health and disease.