PCSK9 inhibitors: A new era of lipid lowering therapy
Hyperlipidemia is a well-established risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). The recent American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines on lipid management emphasize treatment of individuals at increased risk for developing CVD events with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) at doses proven to reduceCVD events. However, there are limited options for patients who are either intolerant to statin therapy, develop CVD despite being on maximally tolerated statin therapy, or have severe hypercholesterolemia. Recently the Food and Drug Administration approved two novel medications for low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol reduction: Evolocumab and Alirocumab. These agents target and inactivate proprotein convertase subtilsin-kexin type 9 (PCSK9), a hepatic protease that attaches and internalizes LDL receptors into lysosomes hence promoting their destruction. By preventing LDL receptor destruction, LDL-C levels can be lowered 50%-60% above that achieved by statin therapy alone. This review explores PCSK-9 biology and the mechanisms available to alter it; clinical trials targeting PCSK9 activity, and the current state of clinically available inhibitors of PCSK9.