Here's How Cholesterol Damages Your Heart
October 13, 2007
High blood cholesterol is known to contribute to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Now, researchers from the Saint Louis School of Medicine have found out how it does this.
The researchers found, using an animal model, that cholesterol limits the activity of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), a key protective protein that protects your heart’s aorta and other vessels from damage caused by hypertension, high cholesterol, and other factors.
Cholesterol suppresses the responsiveness of cardiovascular cells to TGF-beta, which allows atherosclerosis to develop.
Atherosclerosis damages and narrows arteries of your heart and other tissues, which prevents blood from pumping through properly. This increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The findings also suggest a possible mechanism by which people with high cholesterol are at an increased risk for other diseases such as cancer. TGF-beta is a known tumor suppressor, and when its protective effects become limited by high cholesterol, it could increase your risk of certain cancers.
The researchers hope their findings will lead to the development of new drug therapies to treat or prevent atherosclerosis.
Journal of Cell Science September 18, 2007
Science Daily September 21, 2007