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Brain partly responsible for cholesterol regulation

Published on 08/06/2010
The amount of cholesterol present in the blood stream is governed in part by a chemical in the brain, new research suggests.

The discovery turns on its head the previous assumption that levels are controlled by what we eat and cholesterol production in the liver, and could lead to new ways of treating high cholesterol.

A team from the University of Cincinnati found that increased levels of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin in mice caused the animals to develop a higher concentration of blood-circulating cholesterol.

The authors of the report, published in Nature Neuroscience, say this is because the chemical signals to a receptor in the brain, known as MC4R, to switch off the storage of cholesterol in the liver.

The study's leader Professor Matthias Tschoep said: "We have long thought that cholesterol is exclusively regulated through dietary absorption or synthesis and secretion by the liver.

"Our study shows for the first time that cholesterol is also under direct 'remote control' by specific neurocircuitry in the central nervous system."

Current Joint British Guidelines recommend that everyone should have a cholesterol level of five or below. The current national average is 5.7.

Those with high cholesterol may wish to take out medical insurance as the condition can lead to atherosclerosis, a build up of plaque in the arteries, which in turn can cause heart attacks.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2010

Categories:  Medical
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