David Dow thought he was having back problems, and that his legs were hurting as a result. As it turns out, that pain may have saved his life. An otherwise healthy 57-year-old, he figured he just needed to learn some back-strengthening exercises, so he found a personal trainer to help him. But despite the workouts, his leg pain got worse making it hard for him even to walk from the car to the grocery store entrance. He and the trainer suspected something else was wrong and he sought the advice of his doctor. Soon his doctor's tests revealed the true cause: blockages in the blood vessels of his legs. In fact, the arteries going to his lower extremities were nearly 100 percent blocked. The cause? Years of heavy smoking and high-fat meals, and other factors had caused cholesterol, scar tissue and blood clots to build up inside his blood vessels.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found new evidence to explain how cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mediates the transfer of cholesterol from "good" high density lipoproteins (HDLs) to "bad" low density lipoproteins (LDLs). These findings point the way to the design of safer, more effective next generation CETP inhibitors that could help prevent the development of heart disease. Gang Ren, a materials physicist and electron microscopy expert with Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, a DOE nanoscience research center, led a study in which the first structural images of CETP interacting with HDLs and LDLs were recorded. The images and structural analyses support the hypothesis that cholesterol is transferred from HDLs to LDLs via a tunnel running through the center of the CETP molecule.
Researchers of the Max DelbrĂ ck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch have now identified and described a molecular mechanism underlying the most common malformation of the brain in humans. In holoprosencephaly (HPE), the forebrain (prosencephalon) is only incompletely formed. Here a binding site (receptor) for cholesterol plays a key role. If this receptor is defective, specific signals cannot be received, and the forebrain cannot separate into two hemispheres, as Dr. Annabel Christ, Professor Thomas Willnow and Dr. Annette Hammes have now shown in mice ( Developmental Cell, DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.11.023)*. Cholesterol has a bad reputation because it may lead to vascular calcification in adults (atherosclerosis) as well as to heart attacks and strokes. However, cholesterol is vital for embryonic development because it controls the development of the central nervous system.
Coronary patients with low levels of an immune system antibody called anti-PC, which neutralises parts of the 'bad' cholesterol, run a greater risk of suffering complications following an acute cardiac episode and thus of premature death. This according to new research from Karolinska Institutet published in the scientific periodical The International Journal of Cardiology. "We're hoping that injections of anti-PC can form part of the treatment received by coronary patients, " says principal investigator Professor Johan FrostegĂ rd from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. The main cause of myocardial infarction is atherosclerosis, in which plaque forms along the vascular walls and that has proved to be an inflammatory disease. The plaque contains large amounts of modified and oxidised bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL), which could also be described as a kind of rancid fat.
A new study published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety reveals that internet sites selling prescription statins directly to consumers are widespread, and that most websites advertising statins for sale to the general public contain very poor levels of information relevant to safe use of the medicine and side effects. Researchers led by Professor David Brown, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, simulated a customer search and evaluation of 184 retrieved sites using evaluation tools focusing on quality and safe medicine use. Results showed that a potential purchaser of statins is likely to encounter websites from a wide geographical base of generally poor quality. General contraindications were absent in 92.4% of sites and contraindicated medicines were absent in 47.