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Reverse cholesterol transport in at risk populations

ANZAC Medical Research Institute

  • Cardiovascular Clinician Scientist Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2019
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Leonard Kritharides

Project summary

Investigating if at risk populations have reduced capacity to clear cholesterol from their body.

What is the issue for NSW?

Heart attacks and strokes are among the major causes of death in Australia. While some of these events can be explained by risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol diabetes, age and smoking, many are unexplained. Aboriginal Australians, patients with schizophrenia and women with preeclampsia (a disease of high blood pressure during pregnancy) are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke at a young age, for reasons we do not understand.

In this study we will investigate if these people have reduced capacity to clear cholesterol from their body using new methods never before applied to these Australians. It will involve taking a small volume of their blood and specialised testing for the ability of that blood to remove cholesterol from cells and to deliver it to the liver for clearance. As part of this project we will also develop a new rapid version of one of these tests that will make these tests available to large numbers of people in the community.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Our hypothesis is that inability to clear cholesterol from the body is one of the causes of premature heart disease and stroke. Our study will investigate if this is true in three Australian populations. If this is confirmed, we will use this information to predict who is at risk of having future heart attacks and stroke, and identify future therapies by overcoming those areas where the clearance of cholesterol is slowed. Our studies are therefore directly relevant to Australian populations. We will work closely with experts in the fields of Aboriginal health, schizophrenia, and women’s health to publish our work, present it at scientific and educational meetings, and apply it to the wider Australian population.