A study of 40 overweight children in Edmonton revealed that they all have high levels of apoB48, a structural protein found in intestinal cholesterol. The children displayed high levels of apoB48 even as their LDL cholesterol levels remained in the normal range.
"We don't consider these children to be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease right now, but they have indicated apoB48 at levels that are the same as those that appear in adults who are considered at high risk,” points out Spencer Proctor, Ph.D., a nutritional scientist at the University of Alberta (UA) and co-author of the study. “So, unless their levels decrease, they will become high risk as they age."
The prevailing wisdom among researchers is that high LDL cholesterol, which is produced in the liver, is the best indicator of a patient's cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, even though researchers struggle to explain why 40–50% of people who suffer cardiac episodes have normal LDL levels.
The UA researchers believe that apoB48, which is found exclusively in a type of cholesterol produced in the intestine called chylomicrons, may complement LDL cholesterol as a marker for risk of developing CVD.
"We are not measuring the right things and not understanding all the processes that cause CVD," Dr. Proctor remarks. "This study adds to a growing body of evidence we've collected that indicates measuring apoB48 levels as a means to measure chylomicron levels may be an important piece to the puzzle in understanding just who is and who isn't at risk of CVD."
The study appears in the June issue of Biochemistry Society Transactions.