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Gene Responsible for Good HDL Cholesterol Levels

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers at University of Pennsylvania have discovered a gene mutation that seems to be responsible for producing high levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

Gene variances that determine how the LIPG gene controls endothelial lipase, a crucial enzyme that triggers inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels, were found to be common among individuals who have high HDL-C cholesterol levels. HDL- C is a type of good cholesterol that helps keep arteries clean and protects from heart disease.

HDL-C cholesterol particles are dense, and have the ability to push bad cholesterol particles out of the arteries and to the liver where bad cholesterol can be eliminated. Higher HDL-C cholesterol levels prevent cholesterol build up that can lead to heart attack and stroke. High levels of HDL-C cholesterol are desirable, but few drugs can help us manufacture good cholesterol.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, good cholesterol is linked to mutation of the LIPG gene. People with high HDL-C levels have non-functioning LIPG genes.

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The researchers studied the LIPG gene in 585 individuals of European descent. They found that very high HDL-C levels were associated with unique mutations of the LIPG gene that controls release of the enzyme lipase in the lining of the blood vessels.

Previous studies show that endothelial lipase deficiency in animals leads to increased HDL cholesterol levels. (1)

Endothelial lipase likely plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis, or fatty plaques that build in the arteries and lead to heart attack and stroke.

The study may lead to new drug developments that can raise HDL-C cholesterol levels by suppressing endothelial lipase. More studies are needed to show the impact of lowering endothelial lipase on curbing heart disease.

J. Clin. Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI37176

(1) : J Lipid Res. 2002 Nov;43(11):1763-9.