MicroRNA Research Takes Aim at Cholesterol
Bethesda, MD - If you’re concerned about your cardiovascular health, you’re probably familiar with “good” and “bad” cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and its evil counterpart, low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Too much LDL floating around in your blood causes problems by sticking to the artery walls, narrowing the passage and raising risk of a stroke or heart attack. Statins work to lower LDL. HDL, on the other hand, cruises through your arteries scavenging excess cholesterol and returning it to the liver, where it’s broken down.
The correlation of higher HDL levels with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease is firmly established—and so multiple therapeutic strategies have explored raising HDL. But correlation is not causation, and the appealing simplicity of this hypothesis is now encountering some challenges: the failure of two clinical trials of drugs, which raised HDL but did not reduce cardiovascular events; and the failure of genetic studies to show a causative relationship between lower HDL levels and cardiovascular disease . Nonetheless, alternative strategies to raise HDL continue to be pursued.
NIH-funded researchers, based at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, have figured out a new approach to boost HDL. They are targeting microRNA (miRNA), which are short pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) that regulate protein production by disabling longer RNA templates, called messenger RNA. Continue>
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