Plastics, part of modern life, are useful but can pose a significant challenge to the environment and may also constitute a health concern.
Indeed, exposure to plastic-associated chemicals, such as base chemical bisphenol A and phthalate plasticizers, can increase the risk of human heart disease.
What underlying mechanisms cause this, however, remain elusive.
In a new study from the University of California, Riverside, researchers found a phthalate—a chemical used to make plastics more durable—led to increased plasma cholesterol levels.
They found dicyclohexyl phthalate, or DCHP, strongly binds to a receptor called pregnane X receptor, or PXR.
DCHP ‘turns on’ PXR in the gut, inducing the expression of key proteins required for cholesterol absorption and transport. The new experiments show that DCHP can elicit high cholesterol.
DCHP, a widely used phthalate plasticizer, has recently been proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a high-priority substance for risk evaluation.
Not much is known yet about DCHP’s adverse effects in humans.
The current results provide insights and new understandings of the impact of plastic-associated chemicals on high cholesterol—or dyslipidemia—and heart disease risk.
The team also found that mice exposed to DCHP had in their intestines higher circulating “ceramides”—a class of waxy lipid molecules linked to increased heart disease risk in humans—in a way that was PXR-dependent.
This, too, points to the potentially important role of PXR in contributing to the harmful effects of plastic-associated chemicals on heart health in humans.
If you care about heart attack, please read this story about her husband died of a heart attack, but this former nurse didn’t recognize her own, and findings of the vitamin that can prevent muscle damage after heart attack.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about the cholesterol in body that can predict stroke, heart attack effectively and results showing that Mediterranean diet may lower risk of having another heart attack.
The study is published in Environmental Health Perspectives. One author of the study is Changcheng Zhou.
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