Key aspects of PCSK9 inhibition beyond LDL lowering

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Our primary objective is to review the most recent findings on the biology of PCSK9 and on two key aspects of PCSK9 inhibition beyond LDL control of great clinical relevance: the regulation of lipoprotein (a) circulating levels by PCSK9 inhibitors and the putative diabetogenic effects of these novel therapies.

Recent findings

The reality of two distinct extracellular and intracellular pathways by which PCSK9 decreases the abundance of the LDLR at the surface of many cell types, most importantly hepatocytes, has recently been established. In contrast, the exact mechanisms by which PCSK9 inhibitors lower the circulating levels of lipoprotein (a) remain a point of major dispute. Despite strong indications from genetic studies that PCSK9 inhibition should increase diabetes risk, no such effect has been observed in clinical trials, and in-vitro and in-vivo studies do not clarify this issue.

Summary

The trafficking pathways by which PCSK9 enhance LDLR degradation via the endolysosomal extracellular route or via the Golgi–lysosomal intracellular route remain to be fully elucidated. The mechanisms by which PCSK9 inhibitors reduce lipoprotein (a) also merit additional research efforts. The role of PCSK9 on glucose metabolism should likewise be studied in depth.

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