Columbia University scientists studied a set of transporter proteins that remove cholesterol from cells.
They found that these proteins can also suppress leukocytosis, a key factor in the development of atherosclerosis.
The findings may provide a potential new therapeutic target for preventing or reversing atherosclerosis, they said.
The researchers noted that proteins called ATP binding cassette transporters can protect against atherosclerosis bec-ause they facilitate the removal of cholesterol from cells.
Mice deficient in these proteins have high cholesterol and accelerated atherosclerotic plaque build-up.
However, the presence of high amounts of HDL cholesterol reverses plaque formation.
The researchers concluded that the signal pathways that help prevent plaque accumulation can also help to reduce leukocytosis.