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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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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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Exposure to Arsenic, Lead May Spike up Risk of Heart Disease

Since metals are associated with cardiovascular disease even at relatively low levels of exposure, "population-wide strategies to minimise exposure will further contribute to overall cardiovascular prevention efforts," the researchers concluded

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Heart Disease
Even low exposure to arsenic, lead may up heart disease risk. Pixabay

Even low levels of exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment like arsenic, lead, copper and cadmium pose a significant risk to cardiovascular health, finds a study, led by one of an Indian-origin.

Although often naturally occurring, these contaminants have made their way into water supplies and, via irrigation, into the food chain.

Concern has often focused on the toxicity or carcinogenic properties of the metals, particularly at high doses.

However, the findings, published by The BMJ, showed there is increasing evidence to suggest that heavy metals may have other adverse effects on health – including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke – even at lower levels of exposure, the researchers said.

“It’s clear from our analysis that there’s a possible link between exposure to heavy metals or metalloids and risk of conditions such as heart disease, even at low doses – and the greater the exposure, the greater the risk,” said lead author Rajiv Chowdhury, from Britain’s University of Cambridge.

Heart Disease
Concern has often focused on the toxicity or carcinogenic properties of the metals, particularly at high doses. Pixabay

“While people shouldn’t be overly worried about any immediate health risk, it should send a message to policymakers that we need to take action to reduce people’s exposure.”

The study “reinforces the (often under-recognised) importance of environmental toxic metals in enhancing global cardiovascular risk, beyond the roles of conventional behavioural risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet and inactivity,” the researchers said.

For the study, the team conducted a meta-analysis of 37 studies involving almost 350,000 participants.

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Chowdhury noted that the study highlighted the potential need for additional worldwide efforts and strategies “to reduce human exposures even in settings where there is a relatively lower average level of exposure.”

Since metals are associated with cardiovascular disease even at relatively low levels of exposure, “population-wide strategies to minimise exposure will further contribute to overall cardiovascular prevention efforts,” the researchers concluded. (IANS)