Public Release:  HDL cholesterol controls blood glucose

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease rates are markedly increased in individuals with type 2 diabetes. One of the strongest independent predictors of cardiovascular disease in these patients is a low circulating level of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and its major protein constituent apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I). An international team of scientists led by Dr. Susanna Hofmann from the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), Partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), and Dr. Maarit Lehti from the LIKES Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland, have now determined that normal circulating HDL levels are required for proper skeletal muscle metabolism and function.

In their study, Hofmann and her team observed that without ApoA-I, burning of calories is reduced in skeletal muscle resulting in increased blood glucose and weaker muscle function. The scientists then determined that HDL cholesterol and its protein ApoA-I both enhance usage of glucose and calories inside muscle cells. Raising HDL and ApoA-I levels in animal models resulted in protection against hyperglycemia and age-related symptoms such as decline of muscle performance or fat mass gain. Improved calorie burning in mitochondria (the "power plants" in each cell) was further indicated by a marked reduction of circulating Fibroblast Growth Factor 21, a novel biomarker for mitochondrial dysfunction.

"Our results link for the first time low HDL-cholesterol with impaired use of glucose and burning of calories in type 2 diabetes. ApoA-I analogues are now clinically tested for the prevention and regression of atherosclerosis. Based on our findings described herein, these analogs may offer underappreciated potential for therapeutic opportunities in diabetes", explains Hofmann, who investigates interactions of fat and glucose metabolism with her international team. She adds: "Most importantly, our results are highly relevant for women with type 2 diabetes. Their risk for cardiovascular diseases compared to men with type 2 diabetes is significantly increased, because these women have low concentrations of HDL-cholesterol and ApoA-I."

The numerous conditions associated with overweight and obesity, such as T2D, are among the major widespread diseases in Germany. They are the focus of the research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

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Further Information

Original publication:

Lehti, M. et al (2013). High-density lipoprotein maintains skeletal muscle function by modulating cellular respiration in mice, Circulation, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001551

Link to publication

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,100 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members.http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and interlinks basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. Members are the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health, the Paul Langerhans Institutes of the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden and the University of Tübingen, as well as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Association and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The objective of the DZD is to find answers to open questions in diabetes research by means of a novel, integrative research approach and to make a significant contribution to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Contact for the media

Communication Department, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg -Phone: +49-89-3187-2238 - Fax: 089-3187-3324 - E-Mail: presse@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Scientific contact

Dr. Susanna Hofmann, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg -Phone: +49-89-3187-2112 - E-Mail: susanna.hofmann@helmholtz-muenchen.de

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