A new study, published in an issue of Cell Metabolism, may explain why carriers of a certain gene are more prone to have higher cholesterol or to have a heart attack. The gene, as studied in mice, is called sortilin (SORT1) and it controls LDL cholesterol release into blood from the liver. LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol.
This discovery may help experts formulate a new drug to target SORT1 to help lower cholesterol.
Almost all cardiovascular disease is caused by factors which are modified by genes. SORT1 seems to be an important piece of the puzzle when discussing genes that affect cardiovascular disease.
Previously, researchers examined SORT1 only for its role within the nervous system.
For this study, researchers created a mouse that completely lacked SORT1. Experts noticed blood cholesterol levels to be 20 percent lower after feeding the mouse a higher fat diet. This cholesterol decrease may result in an artery plaque decrease of up to 60 percent. However, mice with higher levels or SORT1 had higher levels of cholesterol.
While mice without SORT1 appeared to be healthier, experts explain why it is necessary. Cholesterol is required in cell membranes and SORT1 manages the release of cholesterol into blood.
The largest problem is consuming a diet high in fat and cholesterol. It is recommended to make healthy choices as cardiovascular disease is influenced by a variety of factors.
Researchers explain one of the most vital discoveries during this study to be the knowledge that targeting SORT1 may be a goal for additional cholesterol medications to protect the heart by preventing additional cholesterol in the blood.