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Good cholesterol stops inflammation

16 June 2014


Life Desk :
An important switch by which high-density lipoprotein (HDL) commonly known as good cholesterol controls the inflammatory response has been discovered by scientists. The results are presented in the current issue of "Nature Immunology".
High cholesterol levels are seen as a cause of dangerous deposits in the bloodstream, which lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). As a consequence, thrombosis, strokes, and heart attacks can develop, which are among the leading causes of death in Western society. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is commonly referred to as the "bad cholesterol", because it promotes atherosclerosis. In contrast, the "good cholesterol", high-density lipoprotein (HDL), helps transport excess cholesterol out of the bloodstream and can counteract an inflammatory reaction in damaged vessel walls.
"It has long been known that HDL has a protective function in cardiovascular diseases that are based on atherosclerosis", reports Prof. Eicke Latz, Director of the Institute of Innate Immunity at the University of Bonn and who is further affiliated with the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the USA. "The molecular causes to which this protective effect of HDL can be attributed were unclear until now". For instance, studies had shown that therapies that simply increase HDL levels in the blood of patients are not sufficient to reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis. HDL has anti-inflammatory effects on immune cells - however the mechanisms have remained unclear until now.

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