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The AT04A vaccine against proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 reduces total cholesterol, vascular inflammation, and atherosclerosis in APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice

Author: Landlinger, C. · Pouwer, M.G. · Juno, C. · Hoorn, J.W.A. van der · Pieterman, E.J. · Jukema, J.W. · Staffler, G. · Princen, H.M.G. · Galabova, G.
Source:European Heart Journal, 32, 38, 2499-2507
Identifier: 769103
doi: doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehx260
Keywords: Health · APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice · Anti-PCSK9 vaccine · Atherosclerosis · Systemic and vascular inflammation · Biomedical Innovation · Healthy Living · Life · MHR - Metabolic Health Research · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Aims: Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) has emerged as a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia and atherosclerosis. PCSK9 binds to the low density lipoprotein receptor and enhances its degradation, which leads to the reduced clearance of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc) and a higher risk of atherosclerosis. In this study, the AT04A anti-PCSK9 vaccine was evaluated for its therapeutic potential in ameliorating or even preventing coronary heart disease in the atherogenic APOE*3Leiden.CETP mouse model. Methods and results: Control and AT04A vaccine-treated mice were fed western-type diet for 18 weeks. Antibody titres, plasma lipids, and inflammatory markers were monitored by ELISA, FPLC, and multiplexed immunoassay, respectively. The progression of atherosclerosis was evaluated by histological analysis of serial cross-sections from the aortic sinus. The AT04A vaccine induced high and persistent antibody levels against PCSK9, causing a significant reduction in plasma total cholesterol (-53%, P < 0.001) and LDLc compared with controls. Plasma inflammatory markers such as serum amyloid A (SAA), macrophage inflammatory protein-1β (MIP-1β/CCL4), macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC/CCL22), cytokine stem cell factor (SCF), and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) were significantly diminished in AT04A-treated mice. As a consequence, treatment with the AT04A vaccine resulted in a decrease in atherosclerotic lesion area (-64%, P = 0.004) and aortic inflammation as well as in more lesion-free aortic segments (+119%, P = 0.026), compared with control. Conclusions: AT04A vaccine induces an effective immune response against PCSK9 in APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice, leading to a significant reduction of plasma lipids, systemic and vascular inflammation, and atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta.