Bempedoic acid has emerged as a potent inhibitor of ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY), a target for the reduction of LDL cholesterol (LDL-C). We review the impact of bempedoic acid treatment on lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis in preclinical models and patients with hypercholesterolemia.
The liver-specific activation of bempedoic acid inhibits ACLY, a key enzyme linking glucose catabolism to lipogenesis by catalyzing the formation of acetyl-CoA from mitochondrial-derived citrate for de novo synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase activation by bempedoic acid is not required for its lipid-regulating effects in vivo. Mendelian randomization of large human study cohorts has validated ACLY inhibition as a target for LDL-C lowering and atheroprotection. In rodents, bempedoic acid decreases plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, and prevents hepatic steatosis. In apolipoprotein E-deficient (Apoe −/−) mice, LDL receptor-deficient (Ldlr −/−) mice and LDLR-deficient miniature pigs, bempedoic acid reduces LDL-C and attenuates atherosclerosis. LDLR expression and activity are increased in primary human hepatocytes and in Apoe −/− mouse liver treated with bempedoic acid suggesting a mechanism for LDL-C lowering, although additional pathways are likely involved. Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials revealed that bempedoic acid effectively lowers LDL-C as monotherapy, combined with ezetimibe, added to statin therapy and in statin-intolerant hypercholesterolemic patients. Treatment does not affect plasma concentrations of triglyceride or other lipoproteins.
The LDL-C-lowering and attenuated atherosclerosis in animal models and reduced LDL-C in hypercholesterolemic patients has validated ACLY inhibition as a therapeutic strategy. Positive results from phase 3 long-term cardiovascular outcome trials in high-risk patients are required for bempedoic acid to be approved for prevention of atherosclerosis.
aDepartment of Biochemistry
bDepartment of Medicine
cRobarts Research Institute, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Correspondence to Murray W. Huff, Robarts Research Institute, The University of Western Ontario, Rm 4222, 1151 Richmond St N, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B7. Tel: +1 519 931 5793; fax: +1 519 931 5227; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org