Liver-specific ATP-citrate lyase inhibition by bempedoic acid decreases LDL-C and attenuates atherosclerosis
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Despite widespread use of statins to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and associated atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk, many patients do not achieve sufficient LDL-C lowering due to muscle-related side effects, indicating novel treatment strategies are required. Bempedoic acid (ETC-1002) is a small molecule intended to lower LDL-C in hypercholesterolemic patients, and has been previously shown to modulate both ATP-citrate lyase (ACL) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity in rodents. However, its mechanism for LDL-C lowering, efficacy in models of atherosclerosis and relevance in humans are unknown. Here we show that ETC-1002 is a prodrug that requires activation by very long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (ACSVL1) to modulate both targets, and that inhibition of ACL leads to LDL receptor upregulation, decreased LDL-C and attenuation of atherosclerosis, independently of AMPK. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the absence of ACSVL1 in skeletal muscle provides a mechanistic basis for ETC-1002 to potentially avoid the myotoxicity associated with statin therapy.
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