As Mendelian randomization (MR) studies showed no efficacy of variants altering HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels concerning cardiovascular disease (CVD) and novel therapeutic interventions aiming to raise HDL-C resulted to futility, the usefulness of HDL-C is unclear.
As the role of HDL-C is currently doubtful, it is suggested that the atheroprotective functions of HDLs can be attributed to the number of HDL particles,and their characteristicsincludingtheir lipid and protein components.Scientific interest has focused on HDL function and on the causes of rendering HDL particles dysfunctional, whereas the relevance of HDL subclasses with CVD remains controversial.
The present review discusses changes in quality as much as in quantity of HDL in pathological conditions and the connection between HDL particle concentration and cardiovascular disease and mortality. Emphasis is given to the recent available data concerning the cholesterol efflux capacity and the parameters that determine HDL functionality, as well as to recent investigations concerning the associations of HDL subclasses with cardiovascular mortality.
MR studies or pharmacological interventions targeting HDL-C are not in favor of the hypothesis of HDL-C levels and the relationship with CVD. The search of biomarkers that relate with HDL functionality is needed. Similarly, HDL particle size and number exhibit controversial data in the context of CVD and further studies are needed.
There is no room for the old concept of HDL as a silver bullet,as HDL-C cannot be considered a robust marker and does not reflect the importance of HDL particle size and number.Elucidation of the complex HDL system as well as the finding of biomarkers will allow the development of any HDL-targeted therapy.