1. Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6351, USA;
2. School of Food Science, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6376, USA
Cholesterol is an essential substance involved in many functions, such as maintaining cell membranes, manufacturing vitamin D on surface of the skin, producing hormones, and possibly helping cell connections in the brain. When cholesterol levels rise in the blood, they can, however, have dangerous consequences. In particular, cholesterol has generated considerable notoriety for its causative role in atherosclerosis, the leading cause of death in developed countries around the world. Homeostasis of cholesterol is centered on the metabolism of lipoproteins, which mediate transport of the lipid to and from tissues. As a synopsis of the major events and proteins that manage lipoprotein homeostasis, this review contributes to the substantial attention that has recently been directed to this area. Despite intense scrutiny, the majority of phenotypic variation in total cholesterol and related traits eludes explanation by current genetic knowledge. This is somewhat disappointing considering heritability estimates have established these traits as highly genetic. Thus, the continued search for candidate genes, mutations, and mechanisms is vital to our understanding of heart disease at the molecular level. Furthermore, as marker development continues to predict risk of vascular illness, this knowledge has the potential to revolutionize treatment of this leading human disease.
Keywords: HDL, LDL, Homeostasis, cholesterol, expression, candidate genes, heart disease