Context: PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9) is a secreted protease that modulates cholesterol homeostasis by decreasing low-density lipoprotein receptor expression. Low levels of plasma lipoproteins are related to severity of illness and survival in patients of intensive care units (ICU).
Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate the regulation of plasma PCSK9 and its association with plasma lipid parameters and clinical markers of severity during critical illness.
Design and patients: The plasma biobank from the previously published HYPOLYTE prospective study was used to measure PCSK9 concentrations by ELISA at days 0 and 8 in 111 patients admitted to surgical ICU for severe multiple trauma. Patients were randomly assigned to hydrocortisone therapy or placebo.
Results: Plasma PCSK9 levels were increased by 2-fold between days 0 and 8 (231 ± 116 vs 481 ± 227 ng/ml; P = .0001). Hydrocortisone therapy did not alter PCSK9 concentrations (451 ± 216 vs 511 ± 239 ng/ml in placebo group; P = .33). PCSK9 was positively associated with low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (Pearson coefficient, 0.26; P = .007) at day 0, but not at day 8. At day 8, an inverse correlation was found between PCSK9 and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (β = -653; P = .004). Although baseline PCSK9 concentrations were not associated to severity scores, PCSK9 values at day 8 were related to injury severity score (β = 6.17; P = .0007), length of stay in ICU (β = 6.14; P = .0001), and duration of both mechanical ventilation (β = 8.26; P = .0001) and norepinephrine infusion (β = 18.57; P = .015).
Conclusions: Plasma PCSK9 appears as a late biomarker of illness severity in patients with severe multiple trauma.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00563303.