If low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered as the ‘bad’ cholesterol, then think again. A recent investigation undertaken by the University of Warwick has now shed light on a novel form of ‘ultra-bad’ cholesterol that ups the risk of heart disease. This much sticky type of cholesterol can probably help in developing new treatments to prevent heart disease particularly in people with type 2 diabetes and the elderly.
During the research, scientists laid hands on this ‘ultra-bad’ cholesterol and termed it as MGmin-low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This cholesterol was apparently discovered more commonly among people with type 2 diabetes and the elderly. It seems to be more ‘stickier’ than normal LDL and attaches to the walls of arteries. Once LDL attaches to artery walls, it can possibly help the dangerous ‘fatty’ plaques’ to form. These plaques in turn are believed to trigger coronary heart disease (CHD).
“We’re excited to see our research leading to a greater understanding of this type of cholesterol, which seems to contribute to heart disease in diabetics and elderly people. Type 2 diabetes is a big issue – of the 2.6 million diabetics in the UK, around 90 per cent have type 2. It’s also particularly common in lower income groups and South Asian communities,” added Dr Naila Rabbani, Associate Professor of Experimental Systems Biology at Warwick Medical School, who led the researcher. “The next challenge is to tackle this more dangerous type of cholesterol with treatments that could help neutralise its harmful effects on patients’ arteries.”
The newly found cholesterol is probably created by the addition of sugar groups to ‘normal’ LDL through a process known as glycation. This process supposedly makes LDL smaller and denser and changes its shape. The sugar groups expose new regions on the surface of the LDL making it stick to artery walls and help build fatty plaques. When fatty plaques grow, they possibly narrow arteries which can ultimately rupture, leading to a blood clot and cause a heart attack or stroke.
The research was published in the journal Diabetes.