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New pathway discovered in cellular cholesterol regulation

05-14-2010 09:32 BJT

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at two laboratories at New York University have collaborated to identify a tiny micro- RNA, miR-33, that regulates key genes involved in cellular cholesterol transport.

The study, published online on Thursday in Science, found that inhibitors of miR-33 may be beneficial because they could enhance cholesterol removal from tissues and raise levels of HDL -- shown in clinical trials to promote regression of human atherosclerotic plaques. This discovery could lead to the development of new treatments for atherosclerosis that would eliminate cholesterol accumulation in the artery wall.

MicroRNAs have recently emerged as important regulators of genes involved in physiological pathways. This study found that inhibiting miR-33 in mice could increase HDL levels by as much as 25 percent, which is similar to what can be accomplished by the drug Niacin, also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid.

"High density lipoprotein (HDL), 'the good cholesterol,' is thought to protect against atherosclerotic vascular disease and treatments to raise HDL are at the forefront of cardiovascular research. Our study identifies a new pathway to regulate HDL levels and suggests that antagonists of miR-33 have exciting potential for use in conjunction with traditional LDL (low density lipoprotein) lowering therapies to raise HDL," says Kathryn J. Moore, associate professor in NYU's Departments of Medicine and one of the senior authors of the study.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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