One in six young adults suffers from high cholesterol, according to Heart UK and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 million American adults (33.5%) have high LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Researchers in Israel have discovered a possible alternative to the most prescribed cholesterol-lowering class of drugs in the world, Statins (or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors), which do not work for all patients. The scientists identified an antioxidant that is capable of lowering cholesterol levels, as well as eliminating free radicals.
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As is widely known, high cholesterol and excess free radicals in the body create a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD). While a healthy lifestyle and low intake of cholesterol does help prevent CVD, many people still have higher than normal cholesterol levels no matter how healthy their lifestyles are.
Finding a different way to do as statins do
Unlike popular belief, most cholesterol in the body does not actually come from food, but is instead produced internally (which is why some slim and fit people can have high cholesterol levels). Statins reduce cholesterol levels by inhibiting an enzyme called HMG-CoA that catalyzes cholesterol biosynthesis. However, not all people respond to such treatment.
Combining pure chemistry, biochemistry and animal studies, the researchers found that a catalytic antioxidant, 1-Fe, inhibit the same enzyme in differently than Statins. “These compounds have nothing to do with Statins,” says Zeev Gross, one of the researchers involved in the study, “they are completely different entities.”
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The new method of inhibition proves to be much more effective than that of current-day methods. “Our antioxidant eliminates free radicals in a catalytic fashion,” explains Gross, “antioxidants from food, wine and vitamins fight free radicals in a one-to-one reaction, where one molecule eliminates one radical. Catalytic antioxidants can take care of a thousand of radicals.”
Balto Korać, a student of redox regulation mechanisms in health and disease at the University of Belgrade in Serbia, confirms the advantages of the new complex: “This antioxidant affects the metabolism and controls cholesterol homeostasis at multiple points – lower cellular uptake, better removal and decreased … cholesterol. These results reveal a new perspective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemic disease.”
The macrocyle (a cyclic macromolecule) in 1-Fe is important for binding the enzyme at points where the body’s chemicals usually don’t do it on their own, in order to inhibit the catalytic activity of the enzyme, notes Gross.
The study was carried out by Adi Haber and Zeev Gross at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa. In the future, Gross and his colleagues intend to study 1-Fe efficacy in other cholesterol-related diseases like diabetes.
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