SFBR Logo Most people worldwide seem to have got themselves entangled in the battle against bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The following piece of information possibly sheds light on the reason for high concentrations of this cholesterol. Experts from the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) have supposedly discovered a gene causing high levels of bad cholesterol to pile up in the blood due to a diet including high-cholesterol.

During the research, investigators analyzed a developed strain of laboratory opossums. Experts claim that when this strain is fed with a standard low-cholesterol diet, it has normal blood levels of LDL cholesterol. It should be noted that if the strain is fed a high-cholesterol diet, LDL cholesterol levels heighten significantly. Such high-responding opossums may be utilized for identifying the genes and underlying mechanisms known for regulating response to dietary cholesterol.

“This research will improve our understanding of cholesterol metabolism and may shed light on why some people have high levels of bad cholesterol in blood while others do not when they consume cholesterol-enriched diets,” alleged John L. VandeBerg, Ph.D., SFBR’s chief scientific officer and senior investigator on the paper.

The researchers initiated experiments to scrutinize several lipids, or fats, in blood and bile to find differences in cholesterol metabolites, sequencing candidate genes of interest to find mutations, and analyzing the impact of each mutation by genetic analyses. In the course of the investigations, scientists laid hands on the ABCB4 gene. It is believed that this gene encodes a protein that transports fats from the liver into bile to assist in the excretion of cholesterol from the body. It was observed that ABCB4 is defective in the high responders.

VandeBerg explained, “If we can identify early in life those people who are going to be adversely affected by consumption of high levels of cholesterol, we can encourage their parents and them to receive individually tailored counseling to establish dietary habits that protect them from cardiovascular disease.”

Experts found that the malfunctioned ABCB4 protein damaged cholesterol excretion resulting in bad cholesterol to gather in the blood. This accumulation appeared on the intake of a high-cholesterol diet. It seems that ABCB4 controls blood cholesterol levels in response to dietary cholesterol. Having employed an animal model, researchers claim it to be a novel discovery. Further investigations will be undertaken for ascertaining the effect of ABCB4 mutations on levels of LDL cholesterol in humans who consume a high cholesterol diet.

The research will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.