Additionally, adiponectin, a hormone that regulates the metabolism of fat and sugar, may be linked to the disease process and prove helpful in finding treatments.
Progeria affects about one in 4-8 million newborns. Although they are born looking healthy, children with Progeria begin to display characteristics of accelerated aging at around 18-24 months of age. Indicators of the disease include growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, and atherosclerosis.
"All children with Progeria die between the ages of 6 and 20 years from heart failure or stroke”, said Leslie Gordon, MD, PhD, Medical Director of the Progeria Research Foundation (PRF).
"Studying heart disease as it relates to children with Progeria can help us better understand how atherosclerosis will affect the aging population while also helping these precious children.”
In the study a team of researchers compared cholesterol levels in children with Progeria to children who do not have the disease. The scientists discovered that, compared with children who do not have Progeria, children with Progeria in their mid- and later years have decreased levels of HDL cholesterol and adiponectin. Both work to remove fat from plaques in arteries, and the lower levels may contribute to accelerated plaque formation.
However, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are elevated in adults with heart disease, are usually at normal levels in children with Progeria.