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Good Cholesterol may Fail to Protect You against Heart Disease, also increases Inflammatory response of Immune Cells called Macrophages

Lung macrophages ingested disease-causing bacteria upon exposure to high-density lipoprotein (HDL)

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Representational image. Flickr

London, November 18, 2016: Although well associated with lowering cardiovascular disease risk high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — known as good cholesterol — may not always be able to protect against heart disease.

A new study has suggested that it increases the inflammatory response of certain immune cells called macrophages.

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This can potentially counteract its well-established anti-inflammatory effect in various other cell types, the study said.

“Good cholesterol’s functions are not as simple as initially thought, and appear to critically depend on the target tissue and cell type,” said Marjo Donners of Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

“In the end, it is the balance between its pro- and anti-inflammatory effects that determines clinical outcome,” Donners added.

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In the study, the researchers found that HDL treatment enhanced inflammation in macrophages, in contrast to its effects in other cell types. Similarly, macrophages taken from mice with elevated HDL levels showed clear signs of inflammation.

This pro-inflammatory effect induced by HDL showed enhanced pathogen protection, the researchers said.

Lung macrophages ingested disease-causing bacteria upon exposure to HDL. On the other hand, mice with low HDL levels were impaired at clearing these bacteria from the lungs.

The results demonstrate that HDL’s pro-inflammatory activity supports the proper functioning of macrophage immune responses.

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According to Donners, these findings suggest that patients with persistent infections or specific immune disorders might benefit from HDL-raising therapies.

The research could also lead to the development of cell-specific therapies that exploit the benefits of HDL-targeted therapies while avoiding the side effects, the researchers noted.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. (IANS)

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Listening to Music While Driving Can Reduce Cardiac Stress

In a Study, Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove

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Listening to Music can be a preventive measure in favour of cardiovascular health in situations of intense stress such as driving during rush hour. Pixabay

Stress while driving is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack, but now researchers have found that listening to Music while driving can reduce cardiac stress.

“We found that cardiac stress in the participants in our experiment was reduced by listening to music while they were driving,” said study lead author Vitor Engracia Valenti, Professor at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil.

For the study, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers analysed the effects of music on cardiac stress in five women between the ages of 18 and 23.

“We opted to assess women who were not habitual drivers because people who drive frequently and have had a license for a long time are better adapted to stressful situations in traffic,” Valenti explained.

The volunteers were assessed on two days, in different situations and in a random order.

On one day, they drove for 20 minutes at rush hour (5:30-6:30 pm) along a three km route in a busy district of Marilia, a medium-sized city in the northwest of Sao Paulo, without listening to music.

On the other day, the volunteers drove the same route at the same time of day but listened to instrumental music on a CD player coupled to the car radio.

The use of earbuds or headphones while driving is a traffic offense.

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Stress while driving is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack, but now researchers have found that listening to Music while driving can reduce cardiac stress. Pixabay

“To increase the degree of traffic stress, we asked them to drive a car they did not own. Driving their own car might help,” Valenti said.

The level of cardiac stress was estimated by measuring heart rate variability using a heart rate monitor attached to the participant’s chest.

Defined as fluctuations in the intervals between consecutive heart beats, heart rate variability is influenced by the autonomic nervous system.

The more active the sympathetic nervous system, the faster the heart beats, while the parasympathetic nervous system tends to slow it down.

“Elevated sympathetic nervous system activity reduces heart rate variability, whereas more intense parasympathetic nervous system activity increases it,” Valenti said.

Analysis showed a reduction in heart rate variability in the volunteers who drove without music, indicating a lower level of parasympathetic nervous system activity but sympathetic nervous system activation.

Conversely, heart rate variability increased in the drivers who listened to music, indicating a higher level of parasympathetic nervous system activity and a reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity.

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The level of cardiac stress was estimated by measuring heart rate variability using a heart rate monitor attached to the participant’s chest while listening to Music. Pixabay

However, the sample size used in the study was too small but significant.

“Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove,” Valenti said.

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“Listening to music could be such a preventive measure in favour of cardiovascular health in situations of intense stress such as driving during rush hour,” he said. (IANS)