March 23, 2005
Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston have found a molecular switch which explains why saturated and Trans-fats trigger a rise in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Trans Fats cause a molecule called PGC-1β to set machinery in motion in the liver which creates the precursors to LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is considered the "bad" form of cholesterol which increases risk for cardiovascular disease. The molecule also turns on transport genes which pump the cholesterol out of the liver and into the circulation.
The new discovery may have relevance for treating individuals with high cholesterol levels. Pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in the findings. The researchers, Bruce Spiegelman PhD and colleagues, plan to see what happens if the effects of PGC-1β are blocked.
Monosaturated fats such as olive oil do not trigger this rise in LDL cholesterol.
See Lin et al. Cell 2005;120:261-273