New Discovery Offers Hope For Controlling Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis

December 22, 1998

NEW DISCOVERY ALTERS THINKING ON CHOLESTEROL AND FAT UPTAKE IN THE GUT
Offers Hope for Controlling Obesity, Atherosclerosis


Scientists have found a protein in the small intestine that may force medical science to re-think long-held beliefs about how the human body absorbs cholesterol and fat, according to a report in the journal Biochemistry. It had been assumed that such lipids simply diffused from the small intestine into the blood stream, a process that is very difficult to control. Researchers say the newly discovered protein is directly involved in facilitating uptake of dietary lipids and offers a better target for drugs to combat obesity and heart disease.

The finding is detailed in both the web and Dec. 22 print editions of the peer-reviewed journal Biochemistry, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The small intestine is the human body's main entrance for dietary cholesterol and fat. A 1990 Biochemistry paper by some of the current authors suggested a protein might be directly involved in the transport, but none have been found until now. "The identification of such a protein opens the very real possibility that we can inhibit the activity of the protein and thereby significantly reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood," claims biochemist Michael Phillips, Ph.D. of MCP Hahnemann University in Philadelphia.

Though the researchers admit they don't yet know exactly how the newly found protein works, lead author Helmut Hauser, Ph.D. of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich compares it to a bus stop on the road leading through the gastrointestinal system. He says that cholesterol and fat molecules ride on bile salt "buses" and "when one comes to (the transport) protein, it's like the bus driving to the bus stop. While they stop, the passengers get out of the bus and into your body." Hauser adds that an inhibitor drug could be made to fit perfectly in those "parking spaces" so that "the buses cannot park because the lot is already occupied, and they travel on until it's too late to participate in absorption and the fat ends up in the feces."

The scientists think their discovery can help reduce and treat obesity as well as artherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease, the western world's number one killer.

The authors say they have already found and patented inhibitory compounds that, in principle, show how to solve these problems, even as the research continues to evolve. "The receptor is well accessible to an orally administered drug," says co-author Georg Schulthess, M.D. at the University of Zurich, "preliminary studies show that the activity of the receptor can be inhibited completely using some synthesized peptides."

Researchers say that several more years of intensive research are needed before any product, food additive or drug is available.
-end-
A nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 155,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.