High Density Lipoproteins

Volume 224 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 207-228

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.


Functionality of HDL: Antioxidation and Detoxifying Effects

  • Helen KarlssonAffiliated withOccupational and Environmental Medicine, Heart Medical Centre, County Council of Ostergotland, Linkoping University
  • , Anatol KontushAffiliated withINSERM UMRS 939, University of Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) Paris 6
  • , Richard W. JamesAffiliated withClinical Diabetes Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Geneva Email author 


High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are complexes of multiple talents, some of which have only recently been recognised but all of which are under active investigation. Clinical interest initially arose from their amply demonstrated role in atherosclerotic disease with their consequent designation as a major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. However, interest is no longer confined to vascular tissues, with the reports of impacts of the lipoprotein on pancreatic, renal and nervous tissues, amongst other possible targets. The ever-widening scope of HDL talents also encompasses environmental hazards, including infectious agents and environmental toxins. In almost all cases, HDL would appear to have a beneficial impact on health. It raises the intriguing question of whether these various talents emanate from a basic ancestral function to protect the cell.

The following chapter will illustrate and review our current understanding of some of the functions attributed to HDL. The first section will look at the antioxidative functions of HDL and possible mechanisms that are involved. The second section will focus specifically on paraoxonase-1 (PON1), which appears to bridge the divide between the two HDL functions discussed herein. This will lead into the final section dealing with HDL as a detoxifying agent protecting against exposure to environmental pathogens and other toxins.


HDL Lipoproteins Oxidative stress Paraoxonase Organophosphates Bacterial pathogen Antiviral activity Nanoparticles Bisphenol