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Atherosclerosis. 2010 Jan;208(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.05.034. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

HDL biogenesis and functions: role of HDL quality and quantity in atherosclerosis.

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University of Patras Medical School, Department of Medicine, Pharmacology Unit, Rio, TK, Greece.


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of death in western societies. In the last few decades, a number of epidemiological studies have shown that a disproportion between atheroprotective and atherogenic lipoproteins in plasma is one of the most important contributors towards atherosclerosis and CHD. Thus, based on the classical view, reduced HDL cholesterol levels independently predict one's risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, while elevated HDL levels protect from atherosclerosis. However, more recent studies have suggested that the relationship between HDL and cardiovascular risk is more complex and extends beyond the levels of HDL in plasma. These studies challenge the existing view on HDL and cardiovascular risk and trigger a discussion as to whether low HDL is a causal effect for the development of heart disease. In this article we provide a review of the current literature on the biogenesis of HDL and its proposed functions in atheroprotection. In addition, we discuss the significance of both HDL quality and quantity in assessing cardiovascular risk.

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