1 May 2015
Winners of the Nobel Prize in 1985, Professors Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown of the University of Texas recently wrote a brief history of cholesterol and heart disease over the previous century in Cell – with a highly justified focus on their own groundbreaking research contribution. Whilst heart disease has a number of causes, it is clear than an imbalance in blood lipids signifies an increased risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy individuals and can be seen in those individuals who have already had a heart attack. The best known biomarkers of dyslipidemia are HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein), often erroneously referred to as cholesterol. Professors Goldstein and Brown have been able to ascertain plausible mechanism as to how LDLs’ normal healthy function as a cholesterol carrier can be compromised and lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Some nutritional components in foods have been acknowledged by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as reducing LDL cholesterol levels in the blood e.g., oat beta glucans and olive polyphenols. In a clinical setting, this effect is achieved by administration of a group of pharmaceuticals known as statins.