Statins stimulate transcription of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), a negative regulator of the low-density lipoprotein receptor, thus blunting the cholesterol-lowering effects of statin treatment. Although there is interindividual variation in PCSK9 statin response, little is known about ancestral and other genetic factors that could contribute to this variation.
We measured plasma PCSK9 levels before and after 6 weeks of treatment with 40 mg/day simvastatin in 901 participants of the Cholesterol and Pharmacogenetics clinical trial and tested phenotypic and genetic factors for correlation with PCSK9 statin response.
Statin-induced changes in plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B were all significantly correlated with statin-induced changes in PCSK9. A detailed examination of the associations of genetic ancestry with PCSK9 statin response revealed that Ashkenazi Jews had smaller statin-induced increases in PCSK9 levels than other self-reported Caucasians (P=0.016). Using genomewide association analysis, we found that the ‘G’ minor allele of rs13064411 in the WD repeat domain 52 (WDR52) gene was significantly associated with greater statin-induced increases in plasma PCSK9 in Caucasians (P=8.2×10–8) in the Cholesterol and Pharmacogenetics trial.
Overall, these results suggest that genetic ancestry and the rs13064411 genotype contribute to interindividual variation in PCSK9 statin response in Caucasians.