Lead investigator Subroto Chatterjee, Ph.D., a cardio-metabolic expert at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center Current asserted that cholesterol-lowering medications tackled the issue on a single front either by blocking cholesterol synthesis or by preventing the body from absorbing too much of it, but atherosclerosis was a multi-factorial problem that required hitting the abnormal cholesterol cycle at many points.
The Johns Hopkins team used an existing man-made compound called D-PDMP to block the synthesis of the GSL molecule, and as a result it prevented the development of heart disease in mice and rabbits fed a high-fat, cholesterol-laden diet.
The findings reveal that D-PDMP appears to work by interfering with a constellation of genetic pathways that regulated the fat metabolism on multiple fronts from the way cells derived and absorbed the cholesterol from food in a way that cholesterol was transported to tissues and organs and was then broken down by the liver and excreted from the body.
The experiments showed that treatment with D-PDMP led to a drop in the animals' levels of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein, LDL and a drop in oxidized LDL, a particularly virulent form of fat that formed when LDL encountered the free radicals.
The results also showed that a there was a surge in good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein, HDL, known to counteract the effects of LDL by mopping it up and a significant drop in triglycerides, that was another type of plaque-building fat.
The study has been published in the journal Circulation.