Molecular and cellular function of the proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9)
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a key regulator of serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Although statins increase serum PCSK9 levels, the effects of different types of statins on the serum PCSK9 levels have not been examined in detail. The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of pitavastatin versus pravastatin on the serum PCSK9 levels. A total of 164 patients with coronary artery disease who were not receiving lipid-lowering therapy were randomly assigned to receive either 4 mg/day of pitavastatin (intensive lipid-lowering therapy) or 20 mg/day of pravastatin (moderate lipid-lowering therapy). The serum PCSK9 levels were measured before statin treatment and 8 months after therapy. A significantly greater reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was observed in the pitavastatin group (-41% vs -28%, p = 0.0001). The serum levels of total PCSK9 and heterodimer PCSK9 significantly increased from 192 to 249 ng/ml (37%, p <0.0001) and 147 to 206 ng/ml (78%, p <0.0001) in the pitavastatin group and from 192 to 249 ng/ml (39%, p <0.0001) and 143 to 201 ng/ml (65%, p <0.0001) in the pravastatin group, respectively. The increase in total and heterodimer PSCK9 did not differ between the 2 groups. No significant correlations were found between the percentage of changes in heterodimer PCSK9 and changes in the various lipid parameters in either group. In conclusion, significant increases in the total and heterodimer PSCK9 levels were observed at 8 months after treatment with pitavastatin and pravastatin; however, these increases did not differ between the 2 statins.