'Good' cholesterol may not stop illness

Xinhua
Increasing the levels of so-called good cholesterol by blocking a key protein involved in its metabolism may not protect against heart disease or stroke, a genetic study shows.
Xinhua

Increasing the levels of so-called good cholesterol by blocking a key protein involved in its metabolism may not protect against heart disease or stroke, a genetic study of 150,000 Chinese adults shows.

There are two types of cholesterol: one considered good and the other bad. Lowering bad cholesterol has been shown to reduce the risk of heart diseases and strokes, but the causal role of good cholesterol in cardiovascular diseases is less clear even though observational studies have shown an inverse association.

Blocking a protein called cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) can raise the levels of good cholesterol and is considered a potentially important approach for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

In the new study published in the US journal JAMA Cardiology, researchers assessed the potential benefits of increasing the levels of good cholesterol by looking at genetic variants that alter the activity of CETP to mimic the effects of drugs that inhibit CETP.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences examined data from 150,000 adults enrolled in a study called the China Kadoorie Biobank.

After 10 years of the study, more than 5,000 participants had coronary heart diseases and 19,000 suffered strokes.

The researchers found that CETP genetic variants substantially raised levels of good cholesterol, but they neither lowered the levels of bad cholesterol nor reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

There was also no effect on atherosclerotic plaques and the thickness of arteries, or on other conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease.

The study found, however, increased risk of eye diseases as a possible adverse effect of inhibiting CETP, a finding which is supported by other genetic studies in East Asian and Western populations.

The results complement recent findings that the beneficial effects of inhibiting CETP were more likely to be due to the lowering the levels of bad cholesterol, rather than raising the levels of good cholesterol.


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