Effects of PCSK9 Targeting: Alleviating Oxidation, Inflammation, and Atherosclerosis

J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Feb;11(3):e023328. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.023328. Epub 2022 Jan 20.


Characterized as a chronic inflammatory disease of the large arteries, atherosclerosis is the primary cause of cardiovascular disease, the leading contributor of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Elevated plasma cholesterol levels and chronic inflammation within the arterial plaque are major mediators of plaque initiation, progression, and instability. In 2003, the protein PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9) was discovered to play a critical role in cholesterol regulation, thus becoming a key player in the mechanisms behind atherosclerotic plaque development. Emerging evidence suggests that PCSK9 could potentially have effects on atherosclerosis that are independent of cholesterol levels. The objective of this review was to discuss the role on PCSK9 in oxidation, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. This function activates proinflammatory cytokine production and affects oxidative modifications within atherosclerotic lesions, revealing its more significant role in atherosclerosis. Although a variety of evidence demonstrates that PCSK9 plays a role in atherosclerotic inflammation, the direct mechanism of involvement is still unknown, driving a gap in knowledge to such a predominant player in cardiovascular disease. Investigation of proteins structurally related to PCSK9 may interestingly be the link in unveiling the mechanistic role of this protein's involvement in oxidation and inflammation. Importantly, the unique structure of PCSK9 bears structural homology to a one-of-a-kind domain found in the metabolic protein resistin, which is responsible for many of the same inflammatory outcomes as PCSK9. Closing this gap in knowledge of PCSK9`s role in atherosclerotic oxidation and inflammation will provide fundamental information for understanding, preventing, and treating cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: PCSK9; atherosclerosis; inflammation; oxidation; resistin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis* / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic*
  • Proprotein Convertase 9 / metabolism


  • PCSK9 protein, human
  • Proprotein Convertase 9