Like a game of 'spot the difference' for disease-prone versus healthy people (Vol. 48, No. 5-6)

Dynamical behaviour of different low-density lipoproteins as a function of temperature and pressure

The change in behaviour of natural nanoparticles, called lipoproteins, under pressure could provide new insights to better understand the genesis of high cholesterol and atherosclerosis

Understanding common diseases sometimes boils down to grasping some of their basic mechanisms. For instance, a specific kind of natural nanoparticles, called low-density lipoproteins (LDL), are fascinating scientists because their modification plays a key role in people affected by high cholesterol. They are also known for their role in the formation of atherosclerosis. The authors mimicked variations of LDL found in people affected by such diseases. They then compared their responses to temperature variations and increased pressure with those of lipoproteins found in healthy people. Their findings, recently published, show that the LDL from healthy people behaved differently when subjected to high pressure compared to LDL affected by the common diseases studied. The authors found that when LDL particles were subjected to variations in temperature, their behaviour was very similar. In fact, a rise in temperature increased their dynamics at the molecular level. However, when the authors increased the pressure on LDL particles, they found that their flexibility actually increased under pressure in healthy people. By contrast, their flexibility clearly decreased for the two modified forms mimicking disease states. This difference, the authors believe, could stem from a slightly different lipid composition.

J. Peters, N. Martinez, B. Lehofer and R. Prassl, Low-density lipoproteins investigated under high hydrostatic pressure by elastic incoherent neutron scattering, Eur. Phys. J. E 40, 68 (2017)