Canadian scientists discover cause of high cholesterol

Canadian scientists have discovered that a protein called resistin, secreted by fat tissue, causes high levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL), increasing the risk of heart disease.

The research, presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, proves that resistin increases the production of LDL in human liver cells and also degrades LDL receptors in the liver. As a result, the liver is less able to clear "bad" cholesterol from the body. Resistin accelerates the accumulation of LDL in arteries, increasing the risk of .

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.

Dr. Shirya Rashid—senior author of the study and assistant professor in the department of medicine at McMaster University—notes that a staggering 40 per cent of people taking statins are resistant to their impact on lowering blood LDL.

"The bigger implication of our results is that high blood resistin levels may be the cause of the inability of statins to lower patients' LDL cholesterol," says Dr. Rashid.

She believes the discovery could lead to revolutionary new , especially those that target and inhibit resistin and thereby increase the effectiveness of statins.

"The possibilities for improved therapy for the causes of cardiovascular disease are very important," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "About 40 per cent of Canadians have high blood cholesterol levels: it's a significant health concern in Canada."

Dr. Abramson notes that the research reconfirms the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and , two critical factors in the prevention of heart disease.

High blood is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It can lead to a buildup of plaque in the 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.

Being overweight also increases the likelihood of high blood pressure and diabetes, compounding the risks of heart disease and stroke.

"Fortunately, we know a great deal about heart disease prevention and how to reverse some of the risks," says Dr. Abramson. She urges Canadians to maintain their heart health through regular visits to their doctor, monitoring their weight and waist size, eating a variety of nutritious, low-fat foods and being physically active. "It's equally important to take your medications as directed by your physician to help further reduce risks."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Mystery of the reverse-wired eyeball solved

23 hours ago

From a practical standpoint, the wiring of the human eye - a product of our evolutionary baggage - doesn't make a lot of sense. In vertebrates, photoreceptors are located behind the neurons in the back of the eye - resulting ...

Neurons controlling appetite made from skin cells

23 hours ago

Researchers have for the first time successfully converted adult human skin cells into neurons of the type that regulate appetite, providing a patient-specific model for studying the neurophysiology of weight ...

Quality control for adult stem cell treatment

Feb 27, 2015

A team of European researchers has devised a strategy to ensure that adult epidermal stem cells are safe before they are used as treatments for patients. The approach involves a clonal strategy where stem cells are collected ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.