Atherosclerosis is a major cause of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death in Canada and worldwide. Reverse cholesterol transport is a multi-step process that results in the removal of excess cholesterol from the body, and higher levels of transport are important for preventing and reversing the development and progression of atherosclerosis.
In a recent study funded by CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Dr. Gordon Francis and his research group discovered that a protein called lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) plays an important role in promoting reverse cholesterol transport. Importantly, supplementing the LAL-deficient models with extra LAL resulted in rescued reverse cholesterol transport.
This suggests that treatment with LAL could potentially be used to reduce the increased risk of atherosclerosis in LAL-deficient individuals.