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Cholesterol Ester Transfer Protein (CETP), Postprandial Lipemia and Hypolipidemic Drugs

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Cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) plays a significant role in high density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism and reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). A reduction in CETP activity leads to an increase in HDL-cholesterol levels. However, the relationship between reduced CETP function and atherosclerosis is complex and confusing. In the hypertriglyceridemic state, CETP is highly expressed and RCT leads to the formation of small dense low density lipoprotein (LDL) and small dense HDL, both of which are involved in the progression of atherosclerosis. Significant associations of the B1B1 genotype with higher plasma CETP concentration and/or CETP activity and lower HDL cholesterol were reported in several, but not all, studies. The magnitude of postprandial lipemia is also associated with plasma CETP concentration and lipoprotein content and size. Several conditions such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, insulin resistance, obesity and familial hypercholesterolaemia are characterized by a more pronounced postprandial hypertriglyceridemia and delayed TG clearance than normal states. Thus, CETP is considered as a candidate target for drug therapy.

A number of synthetic CETP inhibitors (CGS25159 and JTT-705) were evaluated in animals with satisfactory results. In humans, two CETP inhibitors were evaluated, JTT-705 and torcetrapib, leading to HDL increase. However, torcetrapib administration was associated with an increase in blood pressure and other “off-target” effects. It is also not clear whether the HDL produced during treatment with torcetrapib is bioactive (i.e. an “on target” undesirable action). In the current review, CETP function regarding lipid metabolism (in fasting and fed states) from human and animal studies as well as the current knowledge on CETP inhibitors are discussed. We also discuss gender influence on the action of hypolipidemic drugs and their effect on CETP mass and activity, as well as on the lipid profile.

Keywords: Cholesterol ester transfer protein; Cholesterol ester transfer protein inhibitors; atherosclerosis; hypolipidemic drugs; postprandial lipemia

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, 356 Sygrou Ave 176 74 Athens, Greece.

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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