Objective: Bempedoic acid (BemA; ETC-1002) is a novel drug that targets hepatic ATP-citrate lyase to reduce cholesterol biosynthesis. In phase 2 studies, BemA lowers elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in hypercholesterolemic patients. In the present study, we tested the ability of BemA to decrease plasma cholesterol and LDL-C and attenuate atherosclerosis in a large animal model of familial hypercholesterolemia.
Approach and results: Gene targeting has been used to generate Yucatan miniature pigs heterozygous (LDLR+/-) or homozygous (LDLR-/-) for LDL receptor deficiency (ExeGen). LDLR+/- and LDLR-/- pigs were fed a high-fat, cholesterol-containing diet (34% kcal fat; 0.2% cholesterol) and orally administered placebo or BemA for 160 days. In LDLR+/- pigs, compared with placebo, BemA decreased plasma cholesterol and LDL-C up to 40% and 61%, respectively. In LDLR-/- pigs, in which plasma cholesterol and LDL-C were 5-fold higher than in LDLR+/- pigs, BemA decreased plasma cholesterol and LDL-C up to 27% and 29%, respectively. Plasma levels of triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting glucose and insulin, and liver lipids were unaffected by treatment in either genotype. In the aorta of LDLR+/- pigs, BemA robustly attenuated en face raised lesion area (-58%) and left anterior descending coronary artery cross-sectional lesion area (-40%). In LDLR-/- pigs, in which lesions were substantially more advanced, BemA decreased aortic lesion area (-47%) and left anterior descending coronary artery lesion area (-48%).
Conclusions: In a large animal model of LDLR deficiency and atherosclerosis, long-term treatment with BemA reduces LDL-C and attenuates the development of aortic and coronary atherosclerosis in both LDLR+/- and LDLR-/- miniature pigs.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; cholesterol, LDL; lipids; receptors, LDL; swine; therapeutics.
© 2018 American Heart Association, Inc.