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HDL Cholesterol And Non-Cardiovascular Disease: A Narrative Review

Emilie W. Kjeldsen, Liv T. Nordestgaard, Ruth Frikke-Schmidt

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High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol has traditionally been considered the “good cholesterol”, and most of the research regarding HDL cholesterol has for decades revolved around the possible role of HDL in atherosclerosis and its therapeutic potential within atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Randomized trials aiming at increasing HDL cholesterol have, however, failed and left questions to what role HDL cholesterol plays in human health and disease. Recent observational studies involving non-cardiovascular diseases have shown that high levels of HDL cholesterol are not necessarily associated with beneficial outcomes as observed for age-related macular degeneration, type II diabetes, dementia, infection, and mortality. In this narrative review, we discuss these interesting associations between HDL cholesterol and non-cardiovascular diseases, covering observational studies, human genetics, and plausible mechanisms.