Blocking a cellular pathway related to cholesterol metabolism shows early promise in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a German study in mice reports.

The research, “Cholesterol metabolism promotes B-cell positioning during immune pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” was published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Cigarette smoking and environmental pollution are the major risk factors for COPD development, causing an inflammatory reaction in the airways and lung that progressively impairs breathing.

Although the underlying processes of COPD remain largely unknown, increasing evidence supports a key role for inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT), a type of lung lymphoid tissue that develops after pulmonary infection or inflammation. iBALTs are tertiary lymphoid organs, which form near sites of inflammation.