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BACKGROUND - We characterised the phenotypic consequence of genetic variation at the PCSK9 locus and compared findings with recent trials of pharmacological inhibitors of PCSK9.
METHODS - Published and individual participant level data (300,000+ participants) were combined to construct a weighted PCSK9 gene-centric score (GS). Seventeen randomized placebo controlled PCSK9 inhibitor trials were included, providing data on 79,578 participants. Results were scaled to a one mmol/L lower LDL-C concentration.
RESULTS - The PCSK9 GS (comprising 4 SNPs) associations with plasma lipid and apolipoprotein levels were consistent in direction with treatment effects. The GS odds ratio (OR) for myocardial infarction (MI) was 0.53 (95% CI 0.42; 0.68), compared to a PCSK9 inhibitor effect of 0.90 (95% CI 0.86; 0.93). For ischemic stroke ORs were 0.84 (95% CI 0.57; 1.22) for the GS, compared to 0.85 (95% CI 0.78; 0.93) in the drug trials. ORs with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) were 1.29 (95% CI 1.11; 1.50) for the GS, as compared to 1.00 (95% CI 0.96; 1.04) for incident T2DM in PCSK9 inhibitor trials. No genetic associations were observed for cancer, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or Alzheimer's disease - outcomes for which large-scale trial data were unavailable.
CONCLUSIONS - Genetic variation at the PCSK9 locus recapitulates the effects of therapeutic inhibition of PCSK9 on major blood lipid fractions and MI. While indicating an increased risk of T2DM, no other possible safety concerns were shown; although precision was moderate.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS - Circulating levels of oxidized lipoprotein (oxLDL) correlate with myocardial infarction risk and atherosclerosis severity. Our previous study demonstrates that oxLDL immune complexes (oxLDL-ICs) can signal through FcγRs on bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) and enhance their activation and inflammatory cytokine secretion. While global FcγR studies have shown that activating FcγRs are proatherogenic, the role of the inhibitory FcγRIIb is unclear. We sought to determine the role of DC-specific FcγRIIb in atherosclerosis.
METHODS - Bone marrow chimeras were generated by rescuing lethally irradiated Ldlr mice with hematopoietic cells from littermate CD11c-Cre or CD11c-CreFcgr2b donors. Four weeks following transplant, recipients were placed on a Western diet for eight weeks. Various tissues and organs were analyzed for differences in inflammation.
RESULTS - Quantitation of atherosclerosis in the proximal aorta demonstrated a 58% increase in female CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients, but a surprising 44% decrease in male recipients. Hepatic cholesterol and triglycerides were increased in female CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients. This was associated with an increase in CD36 and MHC Class II expression on hepatic CD11cCD11b DCs in female livers. In contrast, male CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients had decreased hepatic lipids with a corresponding decrease in CD36 and MHC Class II expression on CD11c cells. Interestingly, both sexes of CD11c-CreFcgr2b recipients had significant decreases in serum cholesterol and TGs with corresponding decreases in liver Fasn transcripts.
CONCLUSIONS - The absence of FcγRIIb expression on CD11c cells results in sex-dependent alteration in liver inflammation influencing atherogenesis and sex-independent modulation of serum cholesterol and TGs.
Published by Elsevier B.V.
Importance - Whether low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) are associated with increased risk of sepsis and poorer outcomes is unknown.
Objective - To examine the association between LDL-C levels and risk of sepsis among patients admitted to the hospital with infection.
Design, Setting, and Participants - Cohort study in which deidentified electronic health records were used to define a cohort of patients admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, with infection. Patients were white adults, had a code indicating infection from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, and received an antibiotic within 1 day of hospital admission (N = 61 502). Data were collected from January 1, 1993, through December 31, 2017, and analyzed from January 24 through October 31, 2018.
Interventions - Clinically measured LDL-C levels (excluding measurements <1 year before hospital admission and those associated with acute illness) and a genetic risk score (GRS).
Main Outcomes and Measures - The primary outcome was sepsis; secondary outcomes included admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) and in-hospital death.
Results - Among the 3961 patients with clinically measured LDL-C levels (57.8% women; mean [SD] age, 64.1 [15.9] years) and the 7804 with a GRS for LDL-C (54.0% men; mean [SD] age, 59.8 [15.2] years), lower measured LDL-C levels were significantly associated with increased risk of sepsis (odds ratio [OR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.79-0.94; P = .001) and ICU admission (OR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.96; P = .008), but not in-hospital mortality (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.63-1.00; P = .06); however, none of these associations were statistically significant after adjustment for age, sex, and comorbidity variables (OR for risk of sepsis, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.88-1.06]; OR for ICU admission, 0.94 [95% CI, 0.83-1.06]; OR for in-hospital death, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.76-1.22]; P > .05 for all). The LDL-C GRS correlated with measured LDL-C levels (r = 0.24; P < 2.2 × 10-16) but was not significantly associated with any of the outcomes.
Conclusions and Relevance - Results of this study suggest that lower measured LDL-C levels were significantly associated with increased risk of sepsis and admission to ICU in patients admitted to the hospital with infection; however, this association was due to comorbidities because both clinical models adjusted for confounders, and the genetic model showed no increased risk. Levels of LDL-C do not appear to directly alter the risk of sepsis or poor outcomes in patients hospitalized with infection.
Defining the full spectrum of human disease associated with a biomarker is necessary to advance the biomarker into clinical practice. We hypothesize that associating biomarker measurements with electronic health record (EHR) populations based on shared genetic architectures would establish the clinical epidemiology of the biomarker. We use Bayesian sparse linear mixed modeling to calculate SNP weightings for 53 biomarkers from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. We use the SNP weightings to computed predicted biomarker values in an EHR population and test associations with 1139 diagnoses. Here we report 116 associations meeting a Bonferroni level of significance. A false discovery rate (FDR)-based significance threshold reveals more known and undescribed associations across a broad range of biomarkers, including biometric measures, plasma proteins and metabolites, functional assays, and behaviors. We confirm an inverse association between LDL-cholesterol level and septicemia risk in an independent epidemiological cohort. This approach efficiently discovers biomarker-disease associations.
BACKGROUND - Observations from statin clinical trials and from Mendelian randomization studies suggest that low low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations may be associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Despite the findings from statin clinical trials and genetic studies, there is little direct evidence implicating low LDL-C concentrations in increased risk of T2DM.
METHODS AND FINDINGS - We used de-identified electronic health records (EHRs) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to compare the risk of T2DM in a cross-sectional study among individuals with very low (≤60 mg/dl, N = 8,943) and normal (90-130 mg/dl, N = 71,343) LDL-C levels calculated using the Friedewald formula. LDL-C levels associated with statin use, hospitalization, or a serum albumin level < 3 g/dl were excluded. We used a 2-phase approach: in 1/3 of the sample (discovery) we used T2DM phenome-wide association study codes (phecodes) to identify cases and controls, and in the remaining 2/3 (validation) we identified T2DM cases and controls using a validated algorithm. The analysis plan for the validation phase was constructed at the time of the design of that component of the study. The prevalence of T2DM in the very low and normal LDL-C groups was compared using logistic regression with adjustment for age, race, sex, body mass index (BMI), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and duration of care. Secondary analyses included prespecified stratification by sex, race, BMI, and LDL-C level. In the discovery cohort, phecodes related to T2DM were significantly more frequent in the very low LDL-C group. In the validation cohort (N = 33,039 after applying the T2DM algorithm to identify cases and controls), the risk of T2DM was increased in the very low compared to normal LDL-C group (odds ratio [OR] 2.06, 95% CI 1.80-2.37; P < 2 × 10-16). The findings remained significant in sensitivity analyses. The association between low LDL-C levels and T2DM was significant in males (OR 2.43, 95% CI 2.00-2.95; P < 2 × 10-16) and females (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.42-2.12; P = 6.88 × 10-8); in normal weight (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.59-2.98; P = 1.1× 10-6), overweight (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.65-2.83; P = 1.73× 10-8), and obese (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.65-2.41; P = 8 × 10-13) categories; and in individuals with LDL-C < 40 mg/dl (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.71-3.10; P = 3.01× 10-8) and LDL-C 40-60 mg/dl (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.71-2.32; P < 2.0× 10-16). The association was significant in individuals of European ancestry (OR 2.67, 95% CI 2.25-3.17; P < 2 × 10-16) but not in those of African ancestry (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.81-1.46; P = 0.56). A limitation was that we only compared groups with very low and normal LDL-C levels; also, since this was not an inception cohort, we cannot exclude the possibility of reverse causation.
CONCLUSIONS - Very low LDL-C concentrations occurring in the absence of statin treatment were significantly associated with T2DM risk in a large EHR population; this increased risk was present in both sexes and all BMI categories, and in individuals of European ancestry but not of African ancestry. Longitudinal cohort studies to assess the relationship between very low LDL-C levels not associated with lipid-lowering therapy and risk of developing T2DM will be important.
OBJECTIVE - Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have increased cardiovascular (CV) risk. In the general population, exercise improves several CV risk factors. In a cross-sectional study, we examined the hypothesis that more exercise is associated with protective traditional and non-traditional CV risk factor profile in patients with RA.
METHODS - Patient-reported exercise outside of daily activities was quantified by time and metabolic equivalents per week (METmin/week) and CV risk factors including blood pressure, standard lipid profiles, lipoprotein particle concentrations (NMR spectroscopy), and vascular indices were measured in 165 patients with RA. The relationship between exercise and CV risk factors was assessed according to whether patients exercised or not, and after adjustment for age, race and sex.
RESULTS - Over half (54%) of RA patients did not exercise. Among those who did exercise, median value for exercise duration was 113 min/week [IQR: 60, 210], and exercise metabolic equivalent expenditure was 484 METmin/week [IQR: 258, 990]. Disease activity (measured by DAS28 score), C-reactive protein, waist-hip ratio, and prevalence of hypertension were lower in patients who exercised compared to those who did not (all p-values < 0.05) but standard lipid profile and body mass index were not significantly different. Patients who exercised had significantly higher concentrations of HDL particles (p = 0.004) and lower vascular stiffness as measured by pulse wave velocity (p = 0.005).
CONCLUSIONS - More self-reported exercise in patients with RA was associated with a protective CV risk factor profile including lower waist-hip ratio, higher HDL particle concentration, lower vascular stiffness, and a lower prevalence of hypertension.
BACKGROUND - We previously showed that mice lacking MΦLRP1 (low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 in macrophages) undergo accelerated atherosclerotic plaque formation due to changes in macrophages including increased apoptosis, decreased efferocytosis, and exaggerated transition to the inflammatory M1 phenotype. Here we sought to explore the role of macrophage low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 during regression of atherosclerosis since regressing plaques are characterized by transitioning of macrophages to M2 status as inflammation resolves.
METHODS - Apolipoprotein E mice on a high-fat diet for 12 weeks were reconstituted with bone marrow from apolipoprotein E-producing wild-type or MΦLRP1 mice, and then placed on a chow diet for 10 weeks (n=9 to 11 mice/group). A cohort of apolipoprotein E mice reconstituted with apolipoprotein E bone marrow served as baseline controls (n=9).
RESULTS - Plaques of both wild-type and MΦLRP1 bone marrow recipients regressed compared with controls (11% and 22%, respectively; P<0.05), and plaques of MΦLRP1 recipients were 13% smaller than those of wild-type recipients ( P<0.05). Recipients of MΦLRP1 marrow had 36% fewer M1 macrophages ( P<0.01) and 2.5-fold more CCR7 (C-C chemokine receptor type 7)-positive macrophages in the plaque relative to wild-type mice ( P<0.01). Additionally, in vivo studies of cellular egress showed a 4.6-fold increase in 5-ethynyl-2´-deoxyuridine-labeled CCR7 macrophages in mediastinal lymph nodes. Finally, in vivo studies of reverse cholesterol transport showed a 1.4-fold higher reverse cholesterol transport in MΦLRP1 recipient mice ( P<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS - Absence of macrophage low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 unexpectedly accelerates atherosclerosis regression, enhances reverse cholesterol transport, and increases expression of the motility receptor CCR7, which drives macrophage egress from lesions.
APOA1 is the most abundant protein in HDL. It modulates interactions that affect HDL's cardioprotective functions, in part via its activation of the enzyme, LCAT. On nascent discoidal HDL, APOA1 comprises 10 α-helical repeats arranged in an anti-parallel stacked-ring structure that encapsulates a lipid bilayer. Previous chemical cross-linking studies suggested that these APOA1 rings can adopt at least two different orientations, or registries, with respect to each other; however, the functional impact of these structural changes is unknown. Here, we placed cysteine residues at locations predicted to form disulfide bonds in each orientation and then measured APOA1's ability to adopt the two registries during HDL particle formation. We found that most APOA1 oriented with the fifth helix of one molecule across from fifth helix of the other (5/5 helical registry), but a fraction adopted a 5/2 registry. Engineered HDLs that were locked in 5/5 or 5/2 registries by disulfide bonds equally promoted cholesterol efflux from macrophages, indicating functional particles. However, unlike the 5/5 registry or the WT, the 5/2 registry impaired LCAT cholesteryl esterification activity ( < 0.001), despite LCAT binding equally to all particles. Chemical cross-linking studies suggest that full LCAT activity requires a hybrid epitope composed of helices 5-7 on one APOA1 molecule and helices 3-4 on the other. Thus, APOA1 may use a reciprocating thumbwheel-like mechanism to activate HDL-remodeling proteins.
Bexarotene is a pleiotropic molecule that has been proposed as an amyloid-β (Aβ)-lowering drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It acts by upregulation of an apolipoprotein E (apoE)-mediated Aβ clearance mechanism. However, whether bexarotene induces removal of Aβ plaques in mouse models of AD has been controversial. Here, we show by NMR and CD spectroscopy that bexarotene directly interacts with and stabilizes the transmembrane domain α-helix of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) in a region where cholesterol binds. This effect is not mediated by changes in membrane lipid packing, as bexarotene does not share with cholesterol the property of inducing phospholipid condensation. Bexarotene inhibited the intramembrane cleavage by γ-secretase of the APP C-terminal fragment C99 to release Aβ in cell-free assays of the reconstituted enzyme in liposomes, but not in cells, and only at very high micromolar concentrations. Surprisingly, in vitro, bexarotene also inhibited the cleavage of Notch1, another major γ-secretase substrate, demonstrating that its inhibition of γ-secretase is not substrate specific and not mediated by acting via the cholesterol binding site of C99. Our data suggest that bexarotene is a pleiotropic molecule that interfere with Aβ metabolism through multiple mechanisms.