University of Washington School of Medicine analysis also found new effects of known proteins.

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine reported an analysis of the protein composition of HDL. They uncovered new information about HDL, including previously unrecognized proteins.

“Targeting HDL could represent a new horizon in heart disease diagnosis and treatment,” says study leader, Jay Heinecke, M.D., “but simply boosting HDL levels may not be enough to prevent heart disease. You might have to target the right proteins in HDL.”

Dr. Heinecke and colleagues found 48 proteins including 22 that play a role in cholesterol metabolism and 13 new proteins. Of the proteins identified in HDL, some might play a previously unsuspected role in preventing atherosclerotic plaques from rupturing, according to the researchers. Other important protective proteins identified in their study may protect heart cells from injury during a heart attack, Dr. Heinecke says.

Other components found in HDL have potentially destructive effects in the body by promoting cholesterol accumulation and inhibiting some of the heart-protective effects of other proteins, explains Dr. Heinecke. Thus, boosting HDL cholesterol levels alone might not protect the heart, he adds.

The study was presented at the “234th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.”

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