Role of Insulin in the Regulation of Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9
Objective—Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), which binds the low-density lipoprotein receptor and targets it for degradation, has emerged as an important regulator of serum cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk. Although much work is currently focused on developing therapies for inhibiting PCSK9, the endogenous regulation of PCSK9, particularly by insulin, remains unclear. The objective of these studies was to determine the effects of insulin on PCSK9 in vitro and in vivo.
Approach and Results—Using rat hepatoma cells and primary rat hepatocytes, we found that insulin increased PCSK9 expression and increased low-density lipoprotein receptor degradation in a PCSK9-dependent manner. In parallel, hepatic Pcsk9 mRNA and plasma PCSK9 protein levels were reduced by 55% to 75% in mice with liver-specific knockout of the insulin receptor; 75% to 88% in mice made insulin-deficient with streptozotocin; and 65% in ob/ob mice treated with antisense oligonucleotides against the insulin receptor. However, antisense oligonucleotide–mediated knockdown of insulin receptor in lean, wild-type mice had little effect. In addition, we found that fasting was able to reduce PCSK9 expression by 80% even in mice that lack hepatic insulin signaling.
Conclusions—Taken together, these data indicate that although insulin induces PCSK9 expression, it is not the sole or even dominant regulator of PCSK9 under all conditions.
- Received December 22, 2014.
- Accepted May 11, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.