Genetically engineered tomato helps fight bad cholesterol

11/19/2013 10:42:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

processing tomatoesVicky BoydResearchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found that a genetically engineered tomato being developed by the institution can help mice with high cholesterol levels.

The fruit is designed to mimic HDL, or good cholesterol, according to a news release.

The researchers found that even small amounts of a specific lipid in the small intestine can cause high cholesterol levels and inflammation that leads to clogged arteries.

Their work was published in the December issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.

Originally, scientists believed that the small intestine would just package fat and cholesterol from a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet for transport to the liver.

There, the high fat load was suspected to lead to increased blood levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and a decrease in good cholesterol levels.

But the UCLA group found that even 1 part per million of the lipids, known as LPAs, in the small intestine may play a larger role in atherosclerosis, or artery clogging, than previously suspected.

The genetically engineered tomatoes produce a small peptide called 6F that mimics the chief protein of the beneficial HDL.

The researchers added 2.2 percent by weight of freeze-dried tomato powder to mouse rations.

One group of mice were fed a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet whereas the other group ate a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.

Regardless of the diet, the genetically engineered tomatoes prevented an increase of the bad peptides in the small intestine and halted the increase of bad cholesterol, decreases in good cholesterol and systemic inflammation.

Tomatoes that were not genetically engineered had no effect.

The next step is to identify the genes in the small intestine that are altered by the LPAs to find signaling pathways that may be treatment targets.

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usa  |  November, 21, 2013 at 02:47 PM


Redland  |  November, 21, 2013 at 04:17 PM

I find this article to be meaningless. It does not tell which group of rats were fed what.The article says it can help mice with high cholesterol.We need a lot more info and peer reviews on this one.

Vermont  |  November, 21, 2013 at 09:03 PM

Great news for mice everywhere. Meanwhile, we humans would prefer not to eat foods developed in a laboratory, thank you very much.

OH  |  November, 22, 2013 at 06:31 AM

What was the length of the study? What state of health were the mice in 5 generations? I sure don't hope people overlook the dangers of GMO for this one little unneeded benefit. We need people to spend money on growing Nutrient Rich Food instead of trying to reinvent what has been very satisfactory for thousands of years. NO GMO for me!

Riverdale, CA  |  November, 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

I'm a guy who's experienced one heart attack and, as a result, endured coronary bypass surgery (2002). In 2011, I had a stent placed in one of the grafts that had plugged with plaque, caused by cholesterol … the bad kind. I’ve been on statins for years, which I’d point out to Gary, Dewey, James and David, are produced in a laboratory and have proven to add years to heart patients’ lives. So … Pass me the GMO tomatoes with the good cholesterol characteristics, and I’ll eat ‘em long after you guys have succumbed to non-GMO natural causes.

WA State  |  November, 22, 2013 at 06:10 PM

So there you are 4 guys who don't want to eat GMO and 1 who does. This is America and I believe we should have the right to chose. How can I chose if they won't let me know if GMO's are contained in a food product? They already list ingredients, how hard would it be to include, "contains GMO's? We just had the chance here in Washington State with initiative 522 and it was voted down. I believe because huge amounts of money were pumped into the State just prior to the vote by those who profit from the use of GMO's. To bad when they won't let us decide, what are they afraid of? Maybe what we will find out in 20 years?

John R. French    
Marietta, Georgia  |  November, 22, 2013 at 09:48 PM

Dan, I want to eat GMOs too. I prefer GMO crops for many reasons other than cholesterol mitigation, although I am in favor of that too. The problem with mandatory labeling of GMOs is that it places a fear-mongering burden on the agricultural, food packing & processing, and distribution industries that would be required to physically segregate GMO from non-GMO sources. It would be almost impossible to do that, but even if it could be done it would mean increased costs passed along to the consumer for absolutely no gain in terms of safety. By the same logic, every single crop variety that has been bred by means of conventional hybridization should be subjected to the same labeling requirements. Clearly not useful or necessary. On the other hand, if a food marketeer wishes to promotionally advertise GMO technology in its sourcing, I would wholeheartedly support that. I think we need more bold steps in that direction. It would be a welcome a counter-balance to the "organic" food fad that has afflicted some people that like to think of themselves as being somehow "green". I would be an excellent customer & consumer for GMO foods.

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