"Modeling Small-Angle X ray Scattering Data for Low-Density Lipoproteins: Insights into the Fatty Core Packing and Phase Transition" in collaboration with Malmö University
Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque inside the arteries broadly involved in cardio-vascular deceases, which are the leading cause of death in the western hemisphere. The main clinical indicator, low density lipoprotein (LDL = the ‘bad’ cholesterol), is believed to be involved in the onset of the process of depositing fat to the vessel wall. LDL particles in the blood have a range of sizes and compositions, and there are variations among different individuals. The compositional variations might be responsible for the current clinical markers failure at properly predicting the risk for atherosclerosis. Understanding the relationship between LDL structure and composition is the key to unravel the specific role of various LDL components in the development and/or prevention of atherosclerosis. We have developed a new model for determination of the structure of the LDL particles, using small-angle X-ray scattering data. The model not only gives the overall structure, but also determines the particular internal layering of the fats inside the LDL core, as well as changes in the conformation of the protein component, which wraps the fatty core. The new approach allows a fast assessment of the structure and can be used routinely in research projects. This approach, now allows the monitoring of structural changes in the LDL upon different stresses from the environment, such as changes in temperature, oxidation, or external agents used or currently in development against atherosclerotic plaque build-up and which are targeting the LDL.
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