Coronary heart disease is a tale of two forms of plasma cholesterol. In contrast to the well-established effects of “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C), the role of “good” cholesterol (HDL-C) is mysterious. Elevated HDL-C correlates with a lower risk of heart disease, yet drugs that raise HDL-C levels do not reduce risk. Zanoni et al. found that some people with exceptionally high levels of HDL-C carry a rare sequence variant in the gene encoding the major HDL-C receptor, scavenger receptor BI. This variant destroys the receptor’s ability to take up HDL-C. Interestingly, people with this variant have a higher risk of heart disease despite having high levels of HDL-C. This remarkable study was published yesterday in Science with contribution of the IIEG.
The interesting background of this project is nicely described here.