Pro-protein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a secreted 692-amino acid protein that binds surface low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR) and targets it toward lysosomal degradation. As a consequence, the number of LDLRs at the cell surface is decreased, and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) clearance is reduced, a phenomenon that is magnified by gain-of-function mutations of PCSK9. In contrast, loss-of-function mutations of PCSK9 result in increased surface LDLR and improved LDL-C clearance. This provides the rationale for targeting PCSK9 in hypercholesterolemic subjects as a means to lower LDL-C levels. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against PCSK9 that block its interaction with the LDLR have been developed in the past decade. Two companies have recently received the approval for their anti-PCSK9 mAbs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Regeneron/Sanofi, with alirocumab (commercial name – PRALUENT ®) and, Amgen with evolocumab (commercial name – Repatha™). The introduction of anti-PCSK9 mAbs will provide an alternative therapeutic strategy to address many of the unmet needs of current lipid-lowering therapies, such as inability to achieve goal LDL-C level, or intolerance and aversion to statins. This review will focus on the kinetics of PCSK9, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of anti-PCSK9 mAbs, and recent data linking PCSK9 and anti-PCSK9 mAbs to cardiovascular events. Moreover, it will highlight the unanswered questions that still need to be addressed in order to understand the physiologic function, kinetics, and dynamics of PCSK9.
- Cardiovascular risk
- Monoclonal antibodies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pharmacology (medical)