Epidemiological studies demonstrate an inverse correlation between plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration and incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The antiatherogenic role of HDL has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and antioxidant properties, besides its participation in the reverse cholesterol transport (RCT), whereby cholesterol from peripheral tissues (including macrophages of the arterial intima) is delivered to the liver for excretion in bile. Due to these actions, HDL-C has evolved as an attractive target for prevention of CVD. However, the failure of torcetrapib, drug that substantially increases HDL-C levels, in preventing CVD and data from studies with animal models and with carriers of monogenic disorders affecting HDL-C levels in humans provide conflicting data about HDL being antiatherogenic. This review addresses the current state of knowledge regarding HDL based on these recent controversies.
HDL-cholesterol; reverse cholesterol transport; atherosclerosis; cholesteryl ester transfer protein; torcetrapib; Tangier disease