Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More “Good” Cholesterol is Not Always Good for Your Health

26.05.2010
HDL cholesterol can transform from good to bad actor in heart disease process

We’ve all heard about the importance of raising HDL, or the so-called “good” cholesterol, and lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, to improve heart health.

While we’ve come to assume HDL cholesterol is an inherently good thing, a new study shows that for a certain group of patients, this is not always the case. The study is the first to find that a high level of the supposedly good cholesterol places a subgroup of patients at high risk for recurrent coronary events, such as chest pain, heart attack, and death.

The findings, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, a journal of the American Heart Association, could help explain disappointing results from a high-profile Pfizer clinical trial testing torcetrapib, an experimental drug designed to increase levels of HDL cholesterol, that some predicted would become a blockbuster medicine. The trial was halted in 2006 due to a surprisingly excessive number of cardiovascular events and death. As in the current study, cardiovascular events in the torcetrapib trial were associated with higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, though the reasons were unclear.

“It seems counterintuitive that increasing good cholesterol, which we’ve always thought of as protective, leads to negative consequences in some people,” said James Corsetti, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead author of the study. “We’ve confirmed that high HDL cholesterol is in fact associated with risk in a certain group of patients.”

Using a novel graphical data mapping tool – outcome event mapping – Corsetti and his team identified a group of patients in which elevated levels of HDL cholesterol place them in a high-risk category for coronary events.

“The ability to identify patients who will not benefit from efforts to increase HDL cholesterol is important because they can be excluded from trials testing medications that aim to raise HDL cholesterol,” said Charles Sparks, M.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and co-author of the study. “With these patients excluded, researchers may find that raising HDL cholesterol in the remaining population is effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk.”

Despite the outcome of the Pfizer torcetrapib trial and findings in the existing literature, including the current study, that suggest high HDL cholesterol can be a bad thing, drug companies remain invested in identifying drugs to increase HDL cholesterol. Merck recently announced plans to launch a major clinical trial in 2011 to test whether anacetrapib – a molecular cousin to torcetrapib designed to raise good cholesterol – reduces the risk of heart attack and death.

Patients in the high-risk subgroup were characterized as having high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a well-known marker of inflammation, in addition to high HDL cholesterol. Study authors believe genetics and environmental factors, particularly inflammation, influence whether high levels of HDL cholesterol are protective or if they increase cardiovascular risk in individual patients. Given an inflammatory environment, an individual’s unique set of genes helps determine whether HDL cholesterol transforms from a good actor to a bad actor in the heart disease process.

In the high-risk subgroup of patients with elevated HDL cholesterol and CRP, researchers also identified two genetic factors associated with recurrent coronary events. The activity of cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP), which moves cholesterol away from the vascular system and is associated with HDL cholesterol, and p22phox, which influences inflammation-related processes and is associated with CRP, are both risk predictors in this subgroup of patients.

“Our research is oriented around the ability to better identify patients at high risk,” said Corsetti. “Identifying these patients and determining what puts them at high risk may be useful in choosing treatments tailored to the specific needs of particular patient subgroups. This gets us another step closer to achieving the goal of personalized medicine.”

Corsetti’s team identified individuals at high risk for recurrent coronary events among 767 non-diabetic patients who experienced at least one prior heart attack. About 20 percent of the total study population was in the subgroup having high-risk with high HDL cholesterol and CRP. Outcome event maps plot risk over an area defined by high and low levels of two biomarkers, in this case HDL cholesterol and CRP. Peaks and valleys in the maps correspond to high- and low-risk patient subgroups. Patients were followed for recurrent events for approximately two years and were part of the Thrombogenic Factors and Recurrent Coronary Events (THROMBO) study led by cardiologist Arthur Moss, M.D., professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and study co-author.

The current results parallel findings from a study of a healthy population. The Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) study also identified a high-risk subgroup of patients with elevated HDL cholesterol and CRP levels among individuals who had no prior coronary events.

In addition to Corsetti, Sparks, and Moss, Dan Ryan, M.D., and Wojciech Zareba, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center and David Rainwater, Department of Genetics, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas participated in the study. The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

For Media Inquiries:
Emily Butler
585-273-1757

Emily Butler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>