Serum sdLDL-C and Cellular SREBP2-Dependent Cholesterol Levels; Is there a Challenge on Targeting PCSK9?

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Summary

Background: Serum small dense LDL-cholesterol (sdLDL-C) value is suggested to be an important risk factor for atherosclerosis. Since sdLDL-C changes may be related to PCSK9 and SREBP-2 functions, the aim of this study was to investigate correlations between sdLDL-C, circulating PCSK9, SREBP-2 expression and some lipid parameters in serum and buffy coat fraction of healthy subjects.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-four subjects were randomly included in the study. The lipid profile was measured using routine laboratory methods. The serum sdLDL-C level was calculated by a heparin-related precipitation technique. The cellular LDL-C/protein and cholesterol/protein values were measured after lysing of cells with methanol/chloroform binary solvent. The circulating PCSK9 level was measured using ELISA technique. The SREBP-2 expression level was estimated using the RT-qPCR technique.

Results: Data showed significant correlations between LDL-C, TG and sdLDL-C levels (r=0.34, p=0.001; r=0.2, p=0.04). The circulating PCSK9 level was correlated to LDL-C (r=0.29, p=0.04), but not to sdLDL-C (r=−0.08, p=0.57). Also, cellular LDL-C value was not related to serum LDL-C level (r=−0.12, p=0.39). Furthermore, there was an inverse correlation between cellular LDL-C/protein value and estimated de novo cholesterol/protein value (r=−0.5, p=0.001). Similar results were observed for cellular LDL-C/protein value and SREBP-2 expression level (r=−0.52, p=0.004).

Conclusions: We concluded that the serum sdLDL-C value is not related to circulating PCSK9. Furthermore, SREBP-2 regulatory system was able to elevate the cellular cholesterol level after reducing LDL influx. We suggest to investigate the cellular sdLDL fate and lipid synthesis pathways in PCSK9-targeting studies.

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