Low cholesterol transfer protein activity associated with heart disease risk

Dec 15, 2009

Although seen as a potential heart disease therapy, raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels by inhibiting activity of a transfer protein may not be effective, a new study suggests. Scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and Boston University School of Medicine found an association between low plasma cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) activity and increased risk of heart disease in the Framingham Heart Study population.

CETP is a protein that shuttles cholesterol throughout the body, thus controlling the levels of HDL, (LDL), and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) in the blood. "Our findings differ from studies suggesting that inhibiting CETP activity would bring a cardiovascular benefit by raising HDL, the so-called good cholesterol credited with lowering the risk of heart disease," says senior author Jose Ordovas, PhD, director of the Nutritional Genomics Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. "In a clinical trial testing that hypothesis, heart disease unexpectedly advanced in a surprising number of participants."

Based on those results, Ordovas and colleagues examined CETP activity in 1,978 Caucasian men and women with a mean age of 51 years and no history of heart disease. They analyzed 15 to 18 years of study visits looking for first cardiac events including heart failure, heart attack, angina, stroke and .

"By the end of the follow-up period, 320 men and women had experienced their first cardiac event," says Ordovas who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. "Participants with low CETP activity were 18 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people with CETP activity above the median."

A more in-depth investigation of models eliminated the possibility that age, sex and common risk factors such as smoking, weight, diabetes, and cholesterol levels interfered with the findings. The results are published in the December 15 issue of Circulation.

The authors stress the preliminary nature of their data. "The relationship between CETP activity and HDL levels carries many unknowns, including the influence of genetics," Ordovas says, pointing to studies of some Japanese families. "Despite very low levels of CETP activities, they still have high heart disease risk. Other genetic studies question the inhibition of CETP, but there is not enough research to discount the possibility that raising HDL levels through CETP inhibitors may reduce the risk of ," he adds.

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

More information: Ramachandran S. Vachon, Michael J. Pencina, Sander J. Robins, Justin P. Zachariah, Guneet Kaur, Ralph B. D'Agostino, and Jose M. Ordovas . "Association of Circulating Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Activity With Incidence of Cardiovascular Disease in the Community" Circulation. 2009;120:2414-2420; published online before print November 30 2009.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New gene variants present opportunities in nutrigenomics

Dec 15, 2008

A new study uncovers 11 gene variants associated with three blood lipids measured to determine cardiovascular disease risk: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglycerides. The ...

Cigarette after Valentine snuggle deadlier for some

Feb 13, 2008

The proverbial cigarette after a Valentine’s Day snuggle can prematurely end a love affair, as new evidence emerges that a common defect in a gene significantly increases a smoker’s risk of an early heart attack. Researchers ...

Abnormal cholesterol levels may raise risk of heart failure

Nov 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Even if you never have a heart attack, abnormal blood cholesterol levels may significantly raise your risk of heart failure, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart As ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

23 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...