Cause of high cholesterol discovered

In a discovery that could further improve the prevention and treatment of heart disease, Canadian researchers have discovered a specific cause of high cholesterol.
The research was presented on Oct. 28 at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress and showed that a protein called “resistin” causes high levels of “bad” cholesterol that increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Resistin is secreted by fatty tissue and in turn increases the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in a person’s liver, while simultaneously degrading the LDL receptors found in the liver.
In layman’s terms, LDL (specifically type-B) enable the transport of multiple different fat molecules, the most concerning being cholesterol. As such, they have been informally labeled “bad cholesterol” particles.
Resistin not only makes it easier for cholesterol to get around your arteries, but it also inhibits your livers ability to filter out such bad cholesterols. The ultimate effect is an acceleration of the accumulation of LDL in the arteries, which inevitably leads to heart disease.
Even more concerning is the fact that resistin is shown to inhibit statins, the most commonly used cholesterol lowering drug. Should further research prove fruitful, a need may arise to reconsider the types of drugs used to help lower cholesterol in at-risk patients.
The senior author of the study is Dr. Shirya Rashid, an Assistant Professor at McMaster University. In a press release concerning the results of the study, Rashid pointed out that 40 per cent of people taking statins are having little to no effect on reducing their cholesterol levels due to resistin.
“The bigger implication of our results is that high blood resistin levels may be the cause of the inability of statins to lower patients’ LDL cholesterol,” said Rashid.
Despite the set back in prevention of high-cholesterol, Rashid is optimistic that the discovery could lead to an important refocus in research, namely designing drugs that will target resistin itself.
Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said, “The possibilities for improved therapy for the causes of cardiovascular disease are very important. About 40 per cent of Canadians have high blood cholesterol levels: it’s a significant health concern in Canada.”
Furthermore, Abramson hopes that all Canadians are vigilant in the fight against heart disease. She urges others to maintain heart health through regular visits to their doctor, monitoring their weight and waist size, eating a variety of nutritious, low-fat foods and being physically active.
“It’s equally important to take your medications as directed by your physician to help further reduce risks.”
For more information about the study and information on how to maintain a healthy heart, visit or

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