Background: Epidemiologic and genomewide association studies have linked loss-of-function variants in ANGPTL3, encoding angiopoietin-like 3, with low levels of plasma lipoproteins.
Methods: We evaluated antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) targeting Angptl3 messenger RNA (mRNA) for effects on plasma lipid levels, triglyceride clearance, liver triglyceride content, insulin sensitivity, and atherosclerosis in mice. Subsequently, 44 human participants (with triglyceride levels of either 90 to 150 mg per deciliter [1.0 to 1.7 mmol per liter] or >150 mg per deciliter, depending on the dose group) were randomly assigned to receive subcutaneous injections of placebo or an antisense oligonucleotide targeting ANGPTL3 mRNA in a single dose (20, 40, or 80 mg) or multiple doses (10, 20, 40, or 60 mg per week for 6 weeks). The main end points were safety, side-effect profile, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic measures, and changes in levels of lipids and lipoproteins.
Results: The treated mice had dose-dependent reductions in levels of hepatic Angptl3 mRNA, Angptl3 protein, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as reductions in liver triglyceride content and atherosclerosis progression and increases in insulin sensitivity. After 6 weeks of treatment, persons in the multiple-dose groups had reductions in levels of ANGPTL3 protein (reductions of 46.6 to 84.5% from baseline, P<0.01 for all doses vs. placebo) and in levels of triglycerides (reductions of 33.2 to 63.1%), LDL cholesterol (1.3 to 32.9%), very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (27.9 to 60.0%), non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (10.0 to 36.6%), apolipoprotein B (3.4 to 25.7%), and apolipoprotein C-III (18.9 to 58.8%). Three participants who received the antisense oligonucleotide and three who received placebo reported dizziness or headache. There were no serious adverse events.
Conclusions: Oligonucleotides targeting mouse Angptl3 retarded the progression of atherosclerosis and reduced levels of atherogenic lipoproteins in mice. Use of the same strategy to target human ANGPTL3 reduced levels of atherogenic lipoproteins in humans. (Funded by Ionis Pharmaceuticals; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02709850 .).