Monthly Archives: April 2014

Scientists alter fat metabolism in animals to prevent most common type of heart disease

April_Part 2_Lipidology_24Working with mice and rabbits, Johns Hopkins scientists have found a way to block abnormal cholesterol production, transport and breakdown, successfully preventing the development of atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes and the number-one cause of death among humans. The condition develops when fat builds inside blood vessels over time and renders them stiff, narrowed and hardened, greatly reducing their ability to feed oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the brain.

In a series of experiments, described April 7 in the journalCirculation, the Johns Hopkins team says it identified and halted the action of a single molecular culprit responsible for a range of biological glitches that affect the body’s ability to properly use, transport and purge itself of cholesterol – the fatty substance that accumulates inside vessels and fuelsheart disease.

The offender, the researchers say, is a fat-and-sugar molecule called glycosphingolipid, or GSL, which resides in the membranes of all cells, and is mostly known for regulating cell growth. Results of the experiments, the scientists say, reveal that this very same molecule also regulates the way the body handles cholesterol.

The Johns Hopkins team used an existing man-made compound called D-PDMP to block the synthesis of the GSL molecule, and by doing so, prevented the development of heart disease in mice and rabbits fed a high-fat, cholesterol-laden diet. The findings reveal that D-PDMP appears to work by interfering with a constellation of genetic pathways that regulate fat metabolism on multiple fronts – from the way cells derive and absorb cholesterol from food, to the way cholesterol is transported to tissues and organs and is then broken down by the liver and excreted from the body.

“Current cholesterol-lowering medications tackle the problem on a single front – either by blocking cholesterol synthesis or by preventing the body from absorbing too much of it,” says lead investigator Subroto Chatterjee, Ph.D., a cardio-metabolic expert at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “But atherosclerosis is a multi-factorial problem that requires hitting the abnormal cholesterol cycle at many points. By inhibiting the synthesis of GSL, we believe we have achieved exactly that.”

Specifically, the experiments showed that treatment with D-PDMP led to:

  • a drop in the animals’ levels of so-called bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein, LDL;
  • a drop in oxidized LDL, a particularly virulent form of fat that forms when LDL encounters free radicals. Oxidized LDL easily sticks to the walls of blood vessels, where it ignites inflammation, damaging the vessel walls and promoting the growth of fatty plaque;
  • a surge in good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein, HDL, known to counteract the effects of LDL by mopping it up; and
  • a significant drop in triglycerides, another type of plaque-building fat.

The treatment also prevented fatty plaque and calcium deposits from building up inside the animals’ vessels. These effects were observed in animals on a daily D-PDMP treatment even though they ate a diet made up of 20 percent triglycerides – the human equivalent of eating a greasy burger for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, the researchers say, D-PDMP appears to precision-target the worst byproducts of aberrant cell growth signaling, such as oxidized LDL and the activity of certain chemicals that fuel vessel inflammation, without altering cell growth itself.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/275836.php

Picture courtesy of www.nutrientrich.com

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Inherited high cholesterol often goes underdiagnosed and undertreated

April_Part 1_Integrative LipidologyAn estimated 1 in 500 people worldwide suffer from familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited condition of extremely high cholesterol that is associated with prematureheart disease and death. Despite this high prevalence, recent research funded by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) confirms FH is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Thomas Knickelbine, MD, Preventive Cardiology Director at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, presented the results of research aimed at identifying just how prevalent FH underdiagnosis is at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting in Washington, DC.

Dr. Knickelbine and a team of MHIF researchers analyzed the electronic health records (EHRs) of 391,166 consenting ambulatory patients seen at Allina Health locations between 2009 and 2012 to identify individuals who were at least 80% likely to have FH (determined by low-density lipoprotein [LDL or “bad” cholesterol”] levels and age). They discovered 841 patients (0.21% or 1 in ~465) who were likely to have FH – only 36 (4.3%) of them had been diagnosed with the condition. “Provider recognition of FH is extremely low,” explains Dr. Knickelbine. “Our research shows we can effectively use EHR data to identify asymptomatic FH patients and improve early diagnosis and treatment of this high-risk condition.”

In this large, ambulatory patient population, the researchers also found that FH was undertreated. Of the 841 patients likely to have FH, 64.8% were on statin medications, but an additional 25.8% were not currently on a statin nor were they reported to be statin intolerant. In addition, only about one fourth of the identified FH group had achieved their NCEP LDL goal, and only 31% had been seen by a cardiovascular (CV) specialist.

Picture courtesy of http://www.uchealth.com

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/274852.php