Inhibition of PCSK9 with evolocumab modulates lipoproteins and monocyte activation in high-risk ASCVD subjects

Robert S. Rosenson, Ashley Tate, Phyu Mar, Olga Grushko, Qinzhong Chen, Sascha N. Goonewardena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mechanistic studies suggest that proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors can modulate inflammation. Methods: Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial randomized 41 ASCVD subjects with type 2 diabetes with microalbuminuria and LDL-C level >70 mg/dL on maximum tolerated statin therapy received subcutaneous evolocumab 420 mg every 4 weeks or matching placebo. The primary outcomes were change in circulating immune cell transcriptional response, lipoproteins and blood viscosity at 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Safety was assessed in all subjects who received at least one dose of assigned treatment and analyses were conducted in the intention-to-treat population. Results: All 41 randomized subjects completed the 2-week visit. Six subjects did not receive study medication consistently after the 2-week visit due to COVID-19 pandemic suspension of research activities. The groups were well-matched with respect to age, comorbidities, baseline LDL-C, white blood cell counts, and markers of systemic inflammation. Evolocumab reduced LDL-C by −68.8% (p < 0.0001) and −52.8% (p < 0.0001) at 2 and 12 weeks, respectively. There were no differences in blood viscosity at baseline nor at 2 and 12 weeks. RNA-seq was performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells with and without TLR4 stimulation (“Stress” transcriptomics). “Stress” transcriptomics unmasked immune cell phenotypic differences between evolocumab and placebo groups at 2 and 12 weeks. Conclusions: This trial is the first to demonstrate that PCSK9 mAB with evolocumab can modulate circulating immune cell properties and highlights the importance of “stress” profiling of circulating immune cells that more clearly define immune contributions to ASCVD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117529
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammation
  • Low density lipoprotein
  • Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9
  • Transcriptomics
  • Type 2 diabetes


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