How Genetic Variants in Children with Familial Hypercholesterolemia Not Only Guide Detection, but Also Treatment

Sibbeliene E. van den Bosch*, Willemijn E. Corpeleijn, Barbara A. Hutten, Albert Wiegman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a hereditary disorder that causes severely elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C) levels, which leads to an increased risk for premature cardiovascular disease. A variety of genetic variants can cause FH, namely variants in the genes for the LDL receptor (LDLR), apolipoprotein B (APOB), proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9), and/or LDL-receptor adaptor protein 1 (LDLRAP1). Variants can exist in a heterozygous form (HeFH) or the more severe homozygous form (HoFH). If affected individuals are diagnosed early (through screening), they benefit tremendously from early initiation of lipid-lowering therapy, such as statins, and cardiovascular imaging to detect possible atherosclerosis. Over the last years, due to intensive research on the genetic basis of LDL-C metabolism, novel, promising therapies have been developed to reduce LDL-C levels and subsequently reduce cardiovascular risk. Results from studies on therapies focused on inhibiting PCSK9, a protein responsible for degradation of the LDLR, are impressive. As the effect of PCSK9 inhibitors (PCSK9-i) is dependent of residual LDLR activity, this medication is less potent in patients without functional LDLR (e.g., null/null variant). Novel therapies that are expected to become available in the near future focused on inhibition of another major regulatory protein in lipid metabolism (angiopoietin-like 3 (ANGPTL3)) might dramatically reduce the frequency of apheresis in children with HoFH, independently of their residual LDLR. At present, another independent risk factor for premature cardiovascular disease, elevated levels of lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)), cannot be effectively treated with medication. Further understanding of the genetic basis of Lp(a) metabolism, however, offers a possibility for the development of novel therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number669
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

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