Sugar or carbohydrates affect cells’ ability to absorb and remove bad cholesterol – LDL in the blood.

This is the result of research conducted at the University of Copenhagen, which for the first time at cell level has established that carbohydrates on proteins increase cells’ ablity to absorb cholesterol by up to five times.

Bad cholesterol LDL is related to fat deposits in the blood vessels, and therefore the body attempts to remove the bad cholesterol by absorbing it into the cells.

A receptor in the body thus creates a passage for the bad cholesterol into the cell.

Now Danish researchers have discovered that carbohydrates increase the function of this receptor.

‘We knew that the cell’s receptor affects the amount of cholesterol a cell is able to absorb. But it is completely new to us that the carbohydrates attached to the receptor hold a vital function.

Without the carbohydrates the cell’s ability to absorb cholesterol decreases.

We have thus outlined the importance of sugar to an important mechanism in our physiology, which in the long run can increase our understanding of the processes that lead to high cholesterol levels and, for example, kidney diseases and neurodegenerative diseases’, says Assistant Professor Katrine Schjoldager from the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

Using advanced techniques such as the gene-editing tool CRISPR and mass spectrometry for protein sequencing, the researchers first identified the gene that determines whether carbohydrates attach to a cell’s receptor.

They then removed the gene, ensuring that no carbohydrates were attached to the receptor.

This enabled the researchers to compare the reaction of the receptor to cholesterol with and without carbohydrates, respectively.

The study showed that the receptors with carbohydrates attached were up to five times as good at absorbing bad cholesterol than the receptors with no carbohydrates attached.

‘At the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics we do fundamental research, which in particular focusses on generating knowledge on how carbohyrates affect the health of the body.

The study stresses the importance of research into carbohydrates, as it affects virtually all the molecular and physiological processes in the body’, says Katrine Schjoldager and stresses that the tests described here were made in cell cultures and therefore cannot be compared directly to cholesterol in the human body.

The study results was conducted in cooperation with researchers from Rigshospitalet, Aarhus University and researchers from Spain.

See also
Cutting either carbs or fats shaves off excess weight in about the same proportion (2018-03-14)

Low carb diets help people to burn more calories

How fat becomes lethal, even without weight gain (2016-07-01)

For more information
Journal of biological chemistry
Site-specific O-glycosylation of members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor superfamily enhances ligand interactions

Copenhagen Center for Glycomics (CCG)

Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

University of Copenhagen


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