Your daily coffees fight bad cholesterol

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Your daily coffees fight bad cholesterol

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant of the nervous system.

Two to three medium-sized cups of coffee a day contain enough caffeine to trigger a cascading biochemical reaction that leads to lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, say Ontario scientists. Explanation.

Work by Richard Austin and his colleagues at McMaster University shows for the first time how caffeine consumption blocks the activation of the SREBP2 protein, which in turn causes a drop in the PCSK9 protein, a reaction to the chain that increases the liver's ability to remove excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.

These results are very interesting. A new mechanism by which caffeine lowers cholesterol has been found. We had thought of all sorts of other mechanisms to explain the benefits of caffeine, its anti-inflammatory effect and on glucose metabolism… But here we come up with a much more precise mechanism, says clinical cardiologist Martin Juneau, from the Montreal Heart Institute, which did not participate in the study.

Since the 1980s, several studies have shown the beneficial effects of regular coffee consumption on cardiovascular health and even on mortality in general.

People who drink between 3 and 5 cups a day have about 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke, compared to non-drinkers, recalls Dr. Martin Juneau, citing a meta-analysis of studies conducted with approximately 1,280,000 participants in 2013.

Besides caffeine, coffee contains more than a thousand compounds. Although the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of several of them are known, the biochemical mechanisms that explain the beneficial effect of coffee on cardiovascular health remain poorly understood.

This study published in the journal Nature Communications (in English) describes one of these mechanisms, that by which coffee and its derivatives block the action of the protein PCSK9 and allow to control LDL cholesterol .

The effect of the PCSK9 protein on cholesterol metabolism is well understood. This protein attacks the receptors that capture LDL cholesterol particles present in the blood. The decrease in the number of these receptors leads to an accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which creates an environment favorable to the formation of plaques which increase the risk of obstruction of the arteries and other vessels.

This article is amazing. Its [coffee] effect is similar to a class of molecules called anti-PCSK9. By countering PCSK9, they increase the amount of receptors, which lowers LDL cholesterol, explains Prof. Juneau.

These PCSK9 inhibitors are exceptional drugs that are not prescribed only to patients who cannot tolerate statins, the conventional treatment for lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, or who do not respond well to them.

“If you want to prescribe this kind of drugs to a patient in Canada, it's $7,000 a year. It is a drug whose effect is fabulous, since it lowers LDL cholesterol by 60%.

— Dr. Martin Juneau, clinical cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute

  • Coffee contains caffeine, a nervous system stimulant.
  • The drink also contains a thousand distinct compounds, including several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules, including chlorogenic acids and lignans, which are believed to improve sugar metabolism and prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • studies also show that regular coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as alzheimer's and parkinson's, as well as several types of cancer (liver, prostate and skin).

To verify the value of the discovery of caffeine's LDL cholesterol-lowering mechanism, McMaster's team developed new caffeine derivatives that strongly reduce blood levels of PCSK9.

“What is also very interesting about their work is that their experiments on cultured cells, mice and human volunteers all allow to observe the same anti-PCSK9 effect. »

— Dr. Martin Juneau, clinical cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute

The McMaster team hopes their work will lead to the commercialization of new treatments that better control LDL cholesterol levels.

“They will try to develop molecules among the many caffeine derivatives, and will determine which is the most active to patent it. The goal is to make it a much cheaper drug than anti-PCSK9 on the market. »

— Dr. Martin Juneau, clinical cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. They are the second leading cause in Canada, accounting for just over 20% of deaths.

Men are more likely than women to die from cardiovascular disease – nearly three times more for men under 65.

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