Cure for Alzheimer’s? Functions of HDL Cholesterol Continue to Surprise

It’s too early to know if this will work but it does appear promising.  Tying in a protein found on HDL cholesterol (known as Apo E) with amyloid has resulted in a basic science experiment which shows real promise for Alzhiemer’s disease treatment.  The Wall Street Journal featured an article showing that a compound known as bexarotene (safe for treating skin cancer) stimulated mice genetics to increase Apo E production. This was associated with increasing dissolving amyloid plaque in a mouse Alzhiemer’s disease model and a sustained improvement in cognition function. Prior to the compound being given to the mice, they couldn’t smell or make a nest (loss of smell is frequent in Alzhiemer’s patients). Within 3 days they were making organized nests (normal behavior lost when they are demonstrating Alzheimer’s disease). This research will lead to human dosing trials according to the article.

Last summer I attended an HDL class sponsored by the National Lipid Association and learned that there is a metabolic pathway whereby HDL cholesterol does affect amyloid and other neuroprotein metabolism. This article suggests that the Apo E protein found in HDL may be what regulates this.  I predict that we will learn over time that HDL cholesterol has many more functions than our current simplistic understanding about returning cholesterol from cells back to the liver–which in and of itself is very important for treating and preventing atherosclerosis.

HDL has long been recognized as the “good cholesterol” with higher levels correlated with reduced cardiovascular events.  It’s important to pay special attention to your cholesterol levels – make sure you schedule regular visits with your doctor and consider supplementing with high quality heart healthy vitamins.

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