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Complex Cholesterol

April 19, 2017

Researchers are using good cholesterol, or HDL, as a window into inflammation and disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Making cholesterol healthier. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it removes fatty deposits from arteries and reduces inflammation. But seven years ago, when researchers tested a drug that boosted HDL levels, something went wrong.

ANGELA ZIVKOVIC (University of California, Davis):

People were more likely to die and they actually had to stop the trials and it was a big disappointment.

HIRSHON:

That’s UC Davis nutritional biologist Angela Zivkovic. She says the failure of that drug led her to look more closely at HDL. In the journal Scientific Reports, she and her colleagues reveal that sugar molecules called glycans on the surface of HDL determine whether it’s helpful or harmful. Examining these glycans could help doctors diagnose who is at high risk for heart disease. Zivkovic adds that certain foods could alter HDL, optimizing its ability to improve health. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon