Aims: Long-term, placebo-controlled cholesterol-lowering trials have demonstrated legacy effects (clinical benefits that persist or emerge after trial end). It is unknown whether legacy effects follow a short period of very low low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels achieved with statin plus PCSK9 inhibitor.
Methods and results: In 18,924 patients post-acute coronary syndrome, the ODYSSEY OUTCOMES trial compared the PCSK9 inhibitor alirocumab with placebo, each added to high-intensity or maximum-tolerated statin therapy. Patients with two consecutive LDL-C levels <0.39 mmol/L (15 mg/dL) on alirocumab had blinded placebo substitution for the remainder of the trial with continued statin treatment. In post hoc analyses, major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in these patients were compared to MACE in propensity score-matched patients from the placebo group with similar baseline characteristics and study medication adherence. In the alirocumab group, 730 patients had blinded placebo substitution at a median 8.3 months from randomization, after a median 6.0 months with LDL-C < 0.39 mmol/L. They were matched to 1460 placebo patients. Both groups had lower baseline LDL-C and lipoprotein(a) and better study medication adherence than the overall cohort. Over a median follow-up of 2.8 years, MACE occurred in 47 (6.4%) alirocumab patients with limited-duration, very low achieved LDL-C versus 122 (8.4%) matched placebo patients (treatment hazard ratio 0.72; 95% confidence interval 0.51, 0.997; P = 0.047).
Conclusions: A short period of LDL-C levels <0.39 mmol/L achieved with statin and alirocumab, followed by statin monotherapy, was associated with lower risk of MACE than statin monotherapy throughout the observation period. Clinical benefit persisted for several years.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01663402.
Keywords: PCSK9 inhibitor; acute coronary syndrome; low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; statin.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.