According to a new research the so-called “good” HDL cholesterol has links to infectious diseases such as gasteroenteritis and pneumonia.
Borge Nordestgaard, professor and chief physician at the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital explains: “Surprisingly, we found that individuals with both low and high HDL cholesterol had high risk of hospitalization with an infectious disease. Perhaps more importantly, these same groups of individuals had high risk of dying from infectious disease.”
The results are on the basis of the data from 100,000 individuals from the Copenhagen General Population Study whom researchers followed for more than 6 years using national Danish health registries. The findings appear in the European Heart Journal.
“Numerous studies in animals and cells indicate that HDL is of importance for the function of the immune system and thereby the susceptibility to infectious disease, but this study is the first to examine if HDL is associated with the risk of infectious disease among individuals from the general population,” explains PhD student, physician, and study coauthor Christian Medom Madsen.
The authors say that they aren’t able to conclude according to this study that very low or very high HDL has a direct impact of the increased risk of infectious disease, but on the other hand they cannot confirm the existence of direct causal relationship either, since data from the genetic part of the study show that this might be the case.
“Our findings indicate that, in the future, research into the role and function of HDL should not narrowly focus on cardiovascular disease, but rather focus on the role of HDL in other disease areas, such as infectious disease,” says Nordestgaard.
The 21 percent of the population having the lowest concentrations of HDL cholesterol and the 8 percent of the population having the highest concentrations of HDL cholesterol are at high risk to develop infectious disease.
People who have low HDL cholesterol are 75% likely to develop infectious disease in comparison to the reference group and the risk was 43 percent higher in those with very high HDL cholesterol.