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HDL influences synthesis and absorption of cholesterol

August 3, 2012

New research carried out at São Paulo University’s School of Medicine in Brazil reveals that HDL concentrations in the blood influence the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol by the body, besides being linked to how insulin impacts on the metabolism of glucose. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is also commonly referred to as “good cholesterol.”

Data analysis showed that volunteers from the low HDL group synthesized more cholesterol, but absorbed less of it through the intestine while high HDL participants synthesized less cholesterol, but absorbed more through the intestine. “This data seemed incongruous,” Quintão noted, “because epidemiological studies show that people who absorb more cholesterol through the intestine are at a higher risk of having a heart attack. It is strange that people who absorb more cholesterol are those with higher HDL,” he said. The team now intends to start a new research to understand this paradox.

The researchers were also surprised to find that volunteers with low HDL were less sensitive to the effect of insulin in comparison to volunteers with high HDL. They found this out when they related the concentration of insulin to the glucose found in the bloodstream of people who were fasting.

“We identified this process of insulin resistance at a very early stage. They were healthy people, without symptoms and normal BMI. We don’t know whether in 10 years’ time there will be more diabetes in this group. It is a new study pathway,” he said. Existing scientific literature reinforces the hypothesis that higher concentrations of HDL improve the absorption of insulin produced in the pancreas during the metabolism of glucose in peripheral tissue.

Previous studies had highlighted the important role this lipoprotein plays in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and atherosclerosis. Previously it was believed that HDL’s protective action was linked to its capacity to remove cholesterol from the walls of arteries and take it back to the liver, where it would be reused or excreted.“Getting a better understanding of the role played by HDL in metabolizing cholesterol is key, because the benefits of raising the levels of this lipoprotein in the blood outstrips the harm caused by the elevation of LDL (‘bad cholesterol’),” said Quintão.

via HDL influences synthesis and absorption of cholesterol.

via HDL influences synthesis and absorption of cholesterol.

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