Scientists find gene for high cholesterol in blood
Scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio have found a gene that causes high levels of bad cholesterol to accumulate in the blood as a result of a high-cholesterol diet. Researchers studied a strain of laboratory opossums developed at SFBR that has normal blood levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when fed a standard low-cholesterol diet, but extremely elevated levels of LDL cholesterol when fed a high-cholesterol diet. These high-responding opossums are used to identify the genes and the underlying mechanisms that control 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," said John L. VandeBerg, Ph.D., SFBR's chief scientific officer and senior author on the paper. Published in the October issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, the work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.
The study involved analyzing various lipids, or fats, in blood and bile to find differences in cholesterol metabolites, sequencing candidate genes of interest to find mutations, and determining the impact of each mutation by genetic analyses. This led to the discovery that the ABCB4 gene, which encodes a protein known to transport fats from the liver into bile to facilitate excretion of cholesterol from the body, is defective in the high responders. Malfunction of the ABCB4 protein was found to impair cholesterol excretion, causing bad cholesterol to accumulate in the blood when a high-cholesterol diet is consumed.
"This is the first report to show that ABCB4 has a role in controlling blood cholesterol levels in response to dietary cholesterol in an animal model," said VandeBerg.
The next step is to determine if any ABCB4 mutations have an effect on levels of LDL cholesterol in humans who consume a high cholesterol diet. "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," VandeBerg said.
- High levels of cholesterol said better for longevityfrom PhysorgThu, 16 Sep 2010, 9:07:11 EDT
- Gene for high cholesterol in blood foundfrom Science DailyWed, 15 Sep 2010, 12:28:10 EDT
- Scientists Find Gene Responsible for High-Cholesterol Levels in Bloodfrom Newswise - ScinewsWed, 15 Sep 2010, 11:42:25 EDT
- Scientists find gene for high cholesterol in bloodfrom PhysorgWed, 15 Sep 2010, 11:21:20 EDT
- Scientists find gene for high cholesterol in bloodfrom Science BlogWed, 15 Sep 2010, 10:49:14 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Astronomers discover powerful aurora beyond solar system
- Researchers design first artificial ribosome
- World's first bilateral hand transplant on child at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories
- Chimpanzees binge on clay to detox and boost the minerals in their diet
- Astronomers discover Earth's bigger cousin
- Rice disease-resistance discovery closes the loop for scientific integrity
- Study finds abrupt climate change may have rocked the cradle of civilization
- Bossy cock takes the lead vocal of cock-a-doodle-do
- Scripps researchers map out trajectory of April 2015 earthquake in Nepal
- Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet
- Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots
- Newly discovered 48-million-year-old lizard walked on water in Wyoming
- Human brain study by UCLA and UK researchers sheds light on how new memories are formed
- Live imaging reveals how wound healing influences cancer