Researchers investigating the antiatherosclerotic properties of high-density lipoprotein unexpectedly found multiple complement-associated proteins and other proteins involved in inflammation in HDL isolated from patients with coronary artery disease. The findings, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that HDL may play a previously unsuspected role in regulating the complement system and protecting tissue from proteolysis.

"The findings indicate that HDL can have functions besides lipid metabolism and lipid transport and that its function can change with the disease," said Tomas Vaisar, lead author of the paper and research assistant professor of medicine in the division of metabolism, endocrinology and nutrition at the University of Washington School of Medicine.