Scientists have identified a link between systemic inflammation and fat (lipid) metabolism that may underlie the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study with that finding, “Lipoprotein profiling in early multiple sclerosis patients: effect of chronic inflammation?,” was published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease.
People with MS have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease even without traditional risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or elevated cholesterol levels in the blood.
Cardiovascular disease is caused by the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in arteries (atherosclerosis), which is linked to elevated total blood cholesterol and altered levels of two blood proteins that combine with lipids and cholesterol to form particles called either low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C).
Overall, high levels of LDL-C (“bad” cholesterol) and low HDL-C levels (“good” cholesterol) are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
However, the size of each particle can vary. Small, dense LDL-C particles are associated with increased cardiovascular risk, while larger LDL-C particles are not. In contrast, it is thought that larger HDL-C particles are more protective than smaller ones.
Studies have found that reduction of HDL-C levels can be caused by pro-inflammatory signaling proteins secreted by immune cells, leading to a loss of anti-inflammatory functions and cholesterol transport.
This suggests that chronic inflammation may be an important factor in the development of cardiovascular disease in people with MS.
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