October 29, 2012
Protein Responsible For High Cholesterol Discovered
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
In a discovery that could help prevent and treat heart disease, a team of Canadian researchers say that they have found a protein that can increase the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
The scientists, who presented their findings Sunday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto, said that resistin, which is secreted by fatty tissue, causes human liver cells to produce more LDL, known as the "bad" form of cholesterol which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Resistin also degrades LDL receptors in the liver, making it harder for the organ to remove it from a person's body, and can accelerate the accumulation of the cholesterol in the arteries, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
"The research also shows that resistin adversely impacts the effects of statins, the main cholesterol-reducing drug used in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease," researchers said in a prepared statement.
According to Dr. Shirya Rashid, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at McMaster University and the senior author of the study, 40% of all people who take statins are actually resistant to their affects, and high levels of resistin in the blood could be to blame for their inability to lower their cholesterol.
The finding could lead to new medicines that help target resistin and inhibit its production, thus restoring the effectiveness of statins, Dr. Rashid said.
"The possibilities for improved therapy for the causes of cardiovascular disease are very important," Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said in a statement. "About 40 percent of Canadians have high blood cholesterol levels: it's a significant health concern in Canada."
She said that the findings also demonstrates how important it is for a person to keep their cholesterol and weight down, as both high LDL levels and obesity are contributing factors in heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol, in particular, is described by the foundation as a "major risk factor" for the ailment.
"It can lead to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls and narrowing of the arteries, causing a condition called atherosclerosis which can make it more difficult for blood to flow through the heart and body," the foundation said. "Being overweight also increases the likelihood of high blood pressure and diabetes, compounding the risks of heart disease and stroke."