Changes in cholesterol may speed up heart disease in patients with progeria. Because progeria is a genetic disease that accelerates the aging process, these patients are more at risk for cardiovascular problems. A study, reported in the Journal of Pediatrics (March 2005), found that decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; "good") cholesterol might factor into early heart disease in these children.
The researchers also noted that adiponectin, a hormone that regulates the metabolism of fat and sugar, may be associated with the disease process. They examined the cholesterol levels in children with the disease and those without it. The results of the study showed that children with progeria had decreased levels of HDL cholesterol and adiponectin in their middle and later years, compared with children without the disease. The investigators hypothesized that low HDL and adiponectin may add to faster plaque formation.