Treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia in paediatric patients: A monocentric experience

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BackgroundHomozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia is a rare life-threatening disease characterized by markedly elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations and accelerated atherosclerosis. The presence of double gene defects in the LDL-Receptor, either the same defect (homozygous) or two different LDL-raising mutations (compound heterozygotes) or other variants, identify the homozygous phenotype (HopFH). Apheresis is a procedure in which plasma is separated from red blood cells before the physical removal of LDL-C or the LDL-C is directly removed from whole blood. It is currently the treatment of choice for patients with HopFH whose LDL-C levels are not able to be reduced to target levels with conventional lipid-lowering drug therapy.DesignThe aim of this study is to report a cohort of six paediatric patients and to evaluate the long term efficacy of combined medical therapy and LDL-apheresis on LDL-C reduction.MethodsWe collected data from six children with confirmed diagnosis of HopFH (two females and four males; age range at diagnosis 3–8 years, mean 6 ± 1 years) from a single clinical hospital in Italy from 2007 to 2017.ResultsClinical manifestations and outcomes may greatly vary in children with HopFH. Medical therapy and LDL-apheresis for the severe form should be started promptly in order to prevent cardiovascular disease.ConclusionsLipoprotein apheresis is a very important tool in managing patients with HopFH at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Based on our experience and the literature data, the method is feasible in very young children, efficient regarding biological results and cardiac events, and safe with minor side-effects and technical problems. We advise treating homozygous and compound heterozygous children as soon as possible.

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