Modulating cholesterol efflux capacity to improve cardiovascular disease

Nicholas Brownell, Anand Rohatgi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose of review Low HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels are predictive of incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events. However, the use of medication to raise HDL-C levels has not consistently shown clinical benefit. As a result, studies have shifted toward HDL function, specifically cholesterol efflux, which has been inversely associated with prevalent subclinical atherosclerosis as well as subsequent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events. The purpose of this review is to summarize the effects of current medications and interventions on cholesterol efflux capacity. Recent findings Medications for cardiovascular health, including statins, fibrates, niacin, and novel therapeutics, are reviewed for their effect on cholesterol efflux. Differences in population studied and assay used are addressed appropriately. Lifestyle interventions, including diet and exercise, are also included in the review. Summary The modification of cholesterol efflux capacity (CEC) by current medications and interventions has been investigated in both large randomized control trials and smaller observational cohorts. This review serves to compile the results of these studies and evaluate CEC modulation by commonly used medications. Altering CEC could be a novel therapeutic approach to improving cardiovascular risk profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-407
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent opinion in lipidology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • ATP binding cassette transporter A1
  • HDL function
  • atherosclerosis
  • cholesterol efflux
  • reverse cholesterol transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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