Genes that Boost Good Cholesterol may Protect Against Heart Disease
News Jun 23, 2008
More than one in three people have genetic variations which raise ‘good cholesterol’ and may protect against heart disease, according to research published by scientists at Cambridge University. The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Led by Mr. Alexander Thompson and Professor John Danesh, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the research used data from 102 different studies and up to 147,000 people from across the world.
The Cambridge team studied genetic variations which affect a protein called cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) which is involved in metabolism of ‘good’ or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. They considered six different variations of the CETP gene that people carried, and looked at the impact the variations had on cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Results showed all three of the most common CETP genetic variations increased ‘good’, HDL cholesterol levels by 3-5%, and people carrying these were about 5% less likely to suffer a heart attack.
With around 227,000 people in the UK suffering a heart attack each year, attempts to prevent heart attacks have previously focused on reducing levels of ‘harmful’ or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol with lifestyle improvements and statins (cholesterol drugs). This research suggests that modification of HDL cholesterol could also have benefits, despite previous clinical trials having been unsuccessful.
Professor John Danesh said: “Our genetic findings strengthen the case for further studies to prevent heart disease by raising levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, including by blocking CETP.”