Current Atherosclerosis Reports

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 405-411

First online:

High-density lipoprotein: Is it always atheroprotective?

  • Benjamin J. AnsellAffiliated withAtherosclerosis Research Unit, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Email author 
  • , Gregg C. Fonarow
  • , Alan M. Fogelman

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High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are appropriately recognized for their many atheroprotective functions, including reverse cholesterol transport, as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic effects. Furthermore, the inverse relationship between HDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis is well documented in many populations. However, there is an increasing body of evidence that there are circumstances in which HDL may not be protective, and may in fact paradoxically promote vascular inflammation and oxidation of low-density lipoproteins. Recent studies have provided insight as to specific chemical modifications and structural changes within HDL associated with this phenotype. The presence of proinflammatory HDL coincides with conditions associated with chronic systemic inflammation, including atherosclerosis.