HEART UK responds to study that says good cholesterol may not always protect you from heart disease

In response to a study conducted by Maastricht University which investigated the relationship between high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and heart function, HEART UK Trustee and Head of Clinical Biochemistry Department at University of Newcastle School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences, Dr Dermot Neely commented:

“Many years of research have proven that having a low level of HDL-cholesterol (‘good cholesterol’) increases the risk of heart disease, but the protective effect of high HDL-cholesterol has recently been called into question.

“This interesting study from the Netherlands sheds light on the complexity of HDL function.

“The researchers examined the effects of HDL particles on scavenger cells (macrophages) taken from mice and found that they boosted inflammation, thereby helping fight infection, whereas mice with low HDL had defective immunity.

“However, the researchers admitted that HDL may have opposite anti-inflammatory effects in other cells, such as those in the artery wall which might well be beneficial and that the balance of these effects would determine whether high HDL really is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. 

“Contrary to some media reports which have missed this important point, this research provides absolutely no evidence that HDL makes heart disease worse in humans, or even mice, but does confirm that HDL and an understanding of its role in the immune system remains an important topic of research, not only for heart disease prevention but also for fighting infection.”


Related stories