2004, Number 1
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ABSTRACTHigh density lipoproteins (HDL) are a family of heterogeneous particles that vary in size, density and chemical composition, as a result of their synthesis and catabolism rates, and a continuous intravascular remodeling by the action of enzymes and transport proteins. Low plasma levels of HDL correlate with a high risk of atherosclerotic heart disease. Such a diminished concentration of HDL affect reverse cholesterol transport, which is the metabolic pathway responsible for the movement of cholesterol excess from peripheral tissues to the liver for recycling or excretion. In addition, HDL possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-aggregatory, anti-coagulant, and pro-fibrinolytic properties, as has been demonstrated by in vitro studies. Some of those potentially anti-atherosclerotic in vitro-properties has been corroborated by HDL infusion in vivo. Such evidences and the protection of susceptible animals from atherosclerosis by transgenic manipulation of HDL metabolism, raise the possibility to focus the HDL plasma levels as a main target in coronary hearth disease prevention. Intervention trials have shown an important reduction in coronary events by rising HDL-cholesterol, mainly in the secondary prevention. Increasing HDL plasma levels by hygienic intervention such as aerobic exercise, weight loss and stop smoking is strongly recommended to reduce coronary risk in primary prevention. Pharmacological intervention to rise the HDL plasma levels with niacin or fibrates, should be considered in some patients as an alternative when hygienic intervention fails. Finally, it most be taken into account that the different HDL subclasses does not possess the same anti-atherosclerotic properties, suggesting that hygienic and pharmacological interventions should focus to increase HDL functionality rather than HDL-cholesterol plasma levels.
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