Study Shows That High Cholesterol Can Cause Infertility in Women

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A Houston Medicine Research Institute study has found that high cholesterol can lead to infertility in women. The cholesterol responsible for this was high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which scientists call good cholesterol. Fortunately, they discovered a protein that could reverse this issue.

Researchers were able to reverse infertility

The researchers used a bacterial protein that lowers cholesterol by 40% in three hours. This protein managed to treat infertility in previously sterile mice with excessive cholesterol. For this reason, scientists theorize that they can apply the same principle to women.

HDL is good cholesterol as it carries fat in other tissues to the liver for breakdown, thus lowering cholesterol in the blood. Unfortunately, an impairment in HDL can lead to it being just as bad as low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The latter can cause issues such as infertility and other diseases when in excess.

According to the head study author, Dr. Corina Rosales, the team is working with serum opacity factor, which is a unique protein. The protein is very potent as it significantly lowers cholesterol in three hours.

The protein could replace statins

Serum opacity factor works by changing the structure of HDL, allowing the liver to metabolize fats efficiently—this reduces obstruction in the reproductive system, which could be causing infertility. Currently, doctors recommend statins to treat high cholesterol levels. The researchers believe that serum opacity factor could become an alternative.

Dr. Rosales adds that the protein is a virulence factor in strep infections. Past researchers have also discovered that it only reacts to HDL and not other lipoproteins. For this reason, the team speculated that introducing it in sterile mice with high cholesterol could reverse infertility.

Dr. Rosales also explained that the ovaries have several HDL receptors hence why HDL metabolism affects fertility. Moreover, about one in five women in the U.S. struggle to conceive within a year of actively trying.

The team intends to conduct a study to test the efficacy of serum opacity factor in infertile women with high cholesterol. While high cholesterol is not a significant cause of infertility, they hope to apply their findings to help women struggling.

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