High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol is generally known as the “good” cholesterol. Charged with the task of picking up extra cholesterol and delivering it back to the liver for processing, HDL cholesterol works to help protect the heart from the damage that inflammation can inflict. Now, it appears that other health conditions, such as psoriasis, may change the way HDL works, causing it to lose some of its protective heart benefits.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes dry red patches that itch and thick scales to form on the surface of the skin. People with psoriasis have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and related cardio conditions including heart attack, stroke, and even premature death. Researchers now think that they may know why.
In the past, HDL cholesterol was found to be lower when inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis, are present. According to a research study led by Dr. Dr. Nehal Mehta, director of Inflammatory Risk Clinic at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, chronic inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis may actually cause HDL cholesterol to change its molecular composition.
In two separate studies, researchers found that people with psoriasis had increased levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL or bad, cholesterol. In addition, researchers found that HDL cholesterol showed a 25 percent decreased in protective heart benefits.
Researchers believe that the inflammation caused by psoriasis changes the numbers of cholesterol, the molecular makeup of the cholesterol particles, and impairs HDL efflux capacity. HDL efflux capacity, or reverse cholesterol transport, is the ability to remove cholesterol from cells, which is why HDL is believed to provide such protective benefits. More studies will be needed to fully evaluate the findings.
Does Psoriasis Thwart the Benefits of ‘Good’ Cholesterol? U.S. News & World Report. 18 Nov 2011.