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

Quality control for adult stem cell treatment

10 minutes ago

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 ...

A gene for brain size only found in humans

2 hours ago

About 99 percent of human genes are shared with chimpanzees. Only the small remainder sets us apart. However, we have one important difference: The brain of humans is three times as big as the chimpanzee ...

Experts warn of stem cell underuse

8 hours ago

Since the first experimental bone marrow transplant over 50 years ago, more than one million hematopoietic stem cell transplantations (HSCT) have been performed in 75 countries, according to new research charting the remarkable ...

Longer needles recommended for epinephrine autoinjectors

20 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Given the increasing epidemic of obesity, epinephrine autoinjectors (EAIs) for anaphylaxis require longer needles to ensure intramuscular injection, according to a study published online Feb. ...

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.