Gene Regulating HDL Cholesterol is Discovered

According to the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, rise of HDL cholesterol is a result of mutation in the gene LIPG. This gene regulates an enzyme called endothelial lipase and inhibition of this enzyme is found to cause high levels of this good cholesterol in the blood.

Genes are the chemical instructions in the body which guide the naturally found chemicals called enzymes. These enzymes are involved in carrying out various types of bodily processes. Uncontrollable factors in the environment cause changes in the structure of genes (technically called mutation), markedly changing their functional capabilities.

Knowledge Gained from the Research on HDL Cholesterol Genetic Link:

  • 585 participants of European ancestry were part of the study involving analysis of their genes.
  • It was found that 10 people had mutation in the gene LIPG previously unreported.
  • This rare event was responsible for very high levels of HDL cholesterol in them.
  • A closer look revealed that the mutation in the gene lead to no activity of the endothelial lipase enzyme which is believed to be the reason for the rise of this cholesterol level in the blood.
  • The study is the first of its kind to provide genetic evidence in humans about raised HDL levels.
  • Further study is focused on knowing whether inhibition of endothelial lipase enzyme can have impact on cardiovascular disease treatment.

Significance of the Research on HDL Cholesterol Genetic Link:

This form of cholesterol is considered as the good one. Presence of it in higher levels helps in removal of plaque. Plaque is cell debris which blocks the flow of oxygen rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Any such eventuality is the root cause for all heart ailments.

As of now, doctors advise patients to regularly exercise and have diet which increases the levels of this cholesterol in the blood to treat heart complications. But, knowledge of the gene and enzyme regulating the metabolism of this cholesterol can open the doors for novel treatment methods in future.

The bad cholesterol or the LDL cholesterol gene was discovered at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio. The laboratory study was carried on experimental opossums fed with a high cholesterol diet.

Results of their study will be published in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Knowledge Gained from Research on LDL Cholesterol Gene:

The study was interested in knowing whether any changes took place in the genetic structures (technically known as mutation) which influence the cholesterol levels in the blood.

This effort led to the discovery of the ABCB4 gene. Genes are chemical instructions followed by the cells in our body to function properly.

This gene is found to be responsible for causing excretion of bad cholesterol from the body by the transfer of fats from the liver to the bile.

When this gene malfunctions, cholesterol excretion gets impaired leading to its accumulation in the blood.

Further research is focused on extending the research on to the humans and learning whether mutation in the ABCB4 gene influences bad cholesterol levels in individuals who consume high cholesterol diet.

New developments in this aspect of study can provide the researchers knowledge of when the negative influence of this cholesterol commences in the body early.

This can help the health professionals to caution the parents of obese children in particular about the possible health complications on consuming high fat diets early in life.

Significance of the Research on LDL Cholesterol Gene:

This form of cholesterol is known as the bad one. It is because increased levels of it in the blood can lead to the formation of plaque. These are cell debris which block the passages to the heart through which oxygen rich blood flows.

Obstruction or blockage of these pathways known as veins and arteries are the primary causes of all heart ailments. Knowledge of the gene which regulates the rise and fall of this cholesterol in the blood can open up new treatment options for cardiovescular diseases.

5 Tips for increasing HDL Cholesterol

  • Dietary changes are absolutely essential. It is important to move away from saturated fats and consume more of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These two types of fats are mostly available in foods like olive oil, fish, avocados and walnuts.
  • Substituting protein or monounsaturated fat in place of carbohydrates can help decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good one. Hypertension is also controlled with such a diet because of the modified lipid levels.
  • Aerobic exercises for at least 30 minutes per day are essential. Regular to vigorous work outs at a pace which makes it difficult to hold a conversation is to be done every day without fail. Regular exercise can increase the happy cholesterol by 5 -10%. In an overweight or obese situation, for every 7 pounds of body weight lost it goes up by 1mg/dl.
  • Taking niacin is also very effective in increasing it. 100mg of niacin four times a day makes for a very effective dose. Over the counter regular niacin is quite cheaper than prescription niacin. However, it would be a good idea to consult a physician and have a dosage recommended for the individual. A peek in to the liver function of the individual before getting started on niacin could be beneficial. Anybody with a history of liver functions should most definitely check with the doctor before starting Niacin. Hot Flushes and light headedness is often associated with niacin intake. The suggestion in that case would be to take an aspirin half an hour ahead of time and take the niacin at bed time.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) can raise the good cholesterol and decrease the lousy LDL. A dosage of 300 milligrams a day is generally recommended and is not known to have any side effects.
  • It might not sound right but research has shown evidence that alcohol in moderation can increase HDL cholesterol. For someone who does not drink it is not advisable to start drinking just to increase the good cholesterol. However, for a regular drinker sticking to one drink a day can in fact have small benefit in elevating the artery cleaning cholesterol.

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