New test to measure HDL cholesterol can predict cardiovascular risk

Dec. 1, 2014

A study conducted by the MedUni Vienna has shown that changes to the “good cholesterol” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) can be associated with cardiovascular diseases (CVD). By developing a new laboratory test, scientists have demonstrated for the first time that the presence of certain proteins in the HDL can lead to an increased risk of CVD and mortality. The researchers have demonstrated that the presence of two specific proteins in the good HDL can be associated with a poorer prognosis in diabetic patients who require dialysis. The study was published recently in theClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

HDL is made up of approximately 20 percent cholesterol; more than 50 percent of HDL is made up of different proteins. This protein composition changes in the presence of a number of different diseases. The researchers demonstrated in an earlier study that two proteins in particular, serum amyloid A (SAA) and surfactant protein B (SP-B), are significantly raised in the HDL of dialysis patients, and these also contribute towards HDL losing its protective effect.

The new test quickly and directly measures the SAA and SP-B in the HDL. The HDL protein composition in patients requiring dialysis was analyzed using this test. High levels of SAA in the HDL were associated with an increased occurrence of heart attacks, while high levels of SP-B in the HDL acted as a marker for a generally increased risk of mortality.

This discovery could change the evaluation of HDL. “The HDL-C value continues to remain important; however, the new test will also allow a much more precise risk prediction for cardiovascular diseases,” explain the study authors. Read the abstract.

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