Cholesterol metabolism and its implications for therapeutic interventions in patients with hypercholesterolaemia.
Cardiovascular diseases are the principal causes of mortality in middle-aged people and in older people. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common of the cardiovascular diseases; high serum levels of cholesterol are associated with atherosclerosis and an increased risk of CHD. Cholesterol homeostasis is achieved by means of a fine balance between cholesterol intake, absorption/excretion and synthesis. All of these processes are tightly linked and a change in one of them can significantly influence the others. Results from both experimental studies and clinical trials have shown that inhibition of cholesterol synthesis with a statin increases absorption and that conversely, inhibition of cholesterol absorption increases synthesis. The tight linkage of cholesterol absorption and synthesis in maintaining cholesterol homeostasis suggests that treatment with an agent that influences only one of these two processes is likely to have distinct limits with respect to its effects on cholesterol levels. Better understanding of cholesterol homeostasis, particularly the close interrelationship between cholesterol synthesis and absorption, may result in the design of rational integrated treatment regimens that employ multiple agents with complementary actions that attack multiple mechanisms to lower cholesterol.
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