Future of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitors: a pharmacological perspective.
ABSTRACT: In almost 30 years since the introduction of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), no other class of lipid modulators has entered the market. Elevation of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) via inhibiting cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) is an attractive strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. Transfer of triglyceride and cholesteryl ester (CE) between lipoproteins is mediated by CETP; thus inhibition of this pathway can increase the concentration of HDL-C. Torcetrapib was the first CETP inhibitor evaluated in phase III clinical trials. Because of off-target effects, torcetrapib raised blood pressure and increased the concentration of serum aldosterone, leading to higher cardiovascular events and mortality. Torcetrapib showed positive effects on cardiovascular risk especially in patients with a greater increase in HDL-C and apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1) levels. The phase III clinical trial of dalcetrapib, the second CETP inhibitor that has entered clinical development, was terminated because of ineffectiveness. Dalcetrapib is a CETP modulator that elevated HDL-C levels but did not reduce the concentration of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). Both heterotypic and homotypic CE transfer between lipoproteins are mediated by some CETP inhibitors, including torcetrapib, anacetrapib, and evacetrapib, while dalcetrapib only affects the heterotypic CE transfer. Dalcetrapib has a chemical structure that is distinct from other CETP inhibitors, with a smaller molecular weight and a lack of trifluoride moieties. Moreover, dalcetrapib is a pro-drug that must be hydrolyzed to a pharmacologically active thiol form. Two other CETP inhibitors, anacetrapib and evacetrapib, are currently undergoing evaluation in phase III clinical trials. Both molecules have shown beneficial effects by increasing HDL-C and decreasing LDL-C concentration. The success of anacetrapib and evacetrapib remains to be confirmed upon the completion of phase III clinical trials in 2017 and 2015, respectively. Generally, the concentration of HDL-C has been considered a biomarker for the activity of CETP inhibitors. However, it is not clear whether a fundamental relationship exists between HDL-C levels and the risk of coronary artery diseases. The most crucial role for HDL is cholesterol efflux capacity in which HDL can reverse transport cholesterol from foam cells in atherosclerotic plaques. In view of the heterogeneity in HDL particle size, charge, and composition, the mere concentration of HDL-C may not be a good surrogate marker for HDL functionality. Recent clinical studies have reported that increased HDL functionality inversely correlates with the development of atherosclerotic plaque. Future development of CETP inhibitors may therefore benefit from the use of biomarkers of HDL functionality.
Project description:The mechanism by which cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) activity affects HDL metabolism was investigated using agents that selectively target CETP (dalcetrapib, torcetrapib, anacetrapib). In contrast with torcetrapib and anacetrapib, dalcetrapib requires cysteine 13 to decrease CETP activity, measured as transfer of cholesteryl ester (CE) from HDL to LDL, and does not affect transfer of CE from HDL3 to HDL2. Only dalcetrapib induced a conformational change in CETP, when added to human plasma in vitro, also observed in vivo and correlated with CETP activity. CETP-induced pre-?-HDL formation in vitro in human plasma was unchanged by dalcetrapib ?3 µM and increased at 10 µM. A dose-dependent inhibition of pre-?-HDL formation by torcetrapib and anacetrapib (0.1 to 10 µM) suggested that dalcetrapib modulates CETP activity. In hamsters injected with [³H]cholesterol-labeled autologous macrophages, and given dalcetrapib (100 mg twice daily), torcetrapib [30 mg once daily (QD)], or anacetrapib (30 mg QD), only dalcetrapib significantly increased fecal elimination of both [³H]neutral sterols and [³H]bile acids, whereas all compounds increased plasma HDL-[³H]cholesterol. These data suggest that modulation of CETP activity by dalcetrapib does not inhibit CETP-induced pre-?-HDL formation, which may be required to increase reverse cholesterol transport.
Project description:Human and rabbit plasma contain a cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) that promotes net mass transfers of cholesteryl esters from high density lipoproteins (HDL) to other plasma lipoprotein fractions. As predicted, inhibition of CETP in both humans and rabbits increases the concentration of cholesterol in the potentially protective HDL fraction, while decreasing it in potentially proatherogenic non-HDL fractions. Inhibition of CETP in rabbits also inhibits the development of diet-induced atherosclerosis. However, use of the CETP inhibitor torcetrapib in humans did not reduce atheroma in three imaging trials and caused an excess of deaths and cardiovascular events in a large clinical outcome trial. The precise explanation for the harm caused by torcetrapib is unknown but may relate to documented, potentially harmful effects unrelated to inhibition of CETP. More recently, a trial using the weak CETP inhibitor dalcetrapib, which raises HDL levels less effectively than torcetrapib and does not lower non-HDL lipoprotein levels, was terminated early for reasons of futility. There was no evidence that dalcetrapib caused harm in that trial. Despite these setbacks, the hypothesis that CETP inhibitors will be antiatherogenic in humans is still being tested in studies with anacetrapib and evacetrapib, two CETP inhibitors that are much more potent than dalcetrapib and that do not share the off-target adverse effects of torcetrapib.
Project description:Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) facilitates exchange of triglycerides and cholesteryl ester between high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and apolipoprotein B100-containing lipoproteins. Evidence from genetic studies that variants in the CETP gene were associated with higher blood HDL cholesterol, lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and lower risk of coronary heart disease suggested that pharmacological inhibition of CETP may be beneficial. To date, 4 CETP inhibitors have entered phase 3 cardiovascular outcome trials. Torcetrapib was withdrawn due to unanticipated off-target effects that increased risk of death, and major trials of dalcetrapib and evacetrapib were terminated early for futility. In the 30,000-patient REVEAL (Randomized Evaluation of the Effects of Anacetrapib through Lipid Modification) trial, anacetrapib doubled HDL cholesterol, reduced non-HDL cholesterol by 17 mg/dl (0.44 mmol/l), and reduced major vascular events by 9% over 4 years, but anaceptrapib was found to accumulate in adipose tissue, and regulatory approval is not being sought. Therefore, despite considerable initial promise, CETP inhibition provides insufficient cardiovascular benefit for routine use.
Project description:Raising HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) has become an attractive therapeutic target to lower cardiovascular risk in addition to statins. Inhibition of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), which mediates the transfer of cholesteryl esters from HDL to apolipoprotein B-containing particles, leads to a substantial increase in HDL-C levels. Various CETP inhibitors are currently being evaluated in phase II and phase III clinical trials. However, the beneficial effect of CETP inhibition on cardiovascular outcome remains to be established.Torcetrapib, the first CETP inhibitor tested in a phase III clinical trial (ILLUMINATE), failed in 2006 because of an increase in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events that subsequently were attributed to nonclass-related off-target effects (particularly increased blood pressure and low serum potassium) related to the stimulation of aldosterone production. Anacetrapib, another potent CETP inhibitor, raises HDL-C levels by approximately 138% and decreases LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels by approximately 40%, without the adverse off-targets effects of torcetrapib (DEFINE study). The CETP modulator dalcetrapib raises HDL-C levels by approximately 30% (with only minimal effect on LDL-C levels) and proved safety in the dal-VESSEL and dal-PLAQUE trials involving a total of nearly 600 patients. Evacetrapib, a relatively new CETP inhibitor, exhibited favorable changes in the lipid profile in a phase II study.The two ongoing outcome trials, dal-OUTCOMES (dalcetrapib) and REVEAL (anacetrapib), will provide more conclusive answers for the concept of reducing cardiovascular risk by raising HDL-C with CETP inhibition.
Project description:Among the noteworthy recent stories in the management and prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the saga of the development of pharmacological inhibitors of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP). Inhibiting CETP significantly raises plasma concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which has long been considered a marker of reduced CVD risk. However, the first CETP inhibitor, torcetrapib, showed a surprising increase in CVD events, despite a dramatic increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. This paradox was explained by putative off-target effects not related to CETP inhibition that were specific to torcetrapib. Subsequently, three newer CETP inhibitors, namely dalcetrapib, anacetrapib, and evacetrapib, were at various phases of clinical development in 2012. Each of these had encouraging biochemical efficacy and safety profiles. Dalcetrapib even had human arterial imaging results that tended to look favorable. However, the dalcetrapib development program was recently terminated, presumably because interim analysis of a large CVD outcome trial indicated no benefit. These events raise important questions regarding the validity of the mechanism of CETP inhibition and the broader issue of whether pharmacological raising of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol itself is a useful strategy for CVD risk reduction.
Project description:Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitors are a new class of therapeutics for dyslipidemia that simultaneously improve two major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors: elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying their efficacy are poorly understood, as are any potential mechanistic differences among the drugs in this class. Herein, we used electron microscopy (EM) to investigate the effects of three of these agents (Torcetrapib, Dalcetrapib and Anacetrapib) on CETP structure, CETP-lipoprotein complex formation and CETP-mediated cholesteryl ester (CE) transfer. We found that although none of these inhibitors altered the structure of CETP or the conformation of CETP-lipoprotein binary complexes, all inhibitors, especially Torcetrapib and Anacetrapib, increased the binding ratios of the binary complexes (e.g., HDL-CETP and LDL-CETP) and decreased the binding ratios of the HDL-CETP-LDL ternary complexes. The findings of more binary complexes and fewer ternary complexes reflect a new mechanism of inhibition: one distal end of CETP bound to the first lipoprotein would trigger a conformational change at the other distal end, thus resulting in a decreased binding ratio to the second lipoprotein and a degraded CE transfer rate among lipoproteins. Thus, we suggest a new inhibitor design that should decrease the formation of both binary and ternary complexes. Decreased concentrations of the binary complex may prevent the inhibitor was induced into cell by the tight binding of binary complexes during lipoprotein metabolism in the treatment of CVD.
Project description:CETP inhibitors block the transfer of cholesteryl ester from HDL-C to VLDL-C and LDL-C, thereby raising HDL-C and lowering LDL-C. In this study, we explored the effect of CETP inhibitors on hepatic LDL receptor (LDLR) and PCSK9 expression and further elucidated the underlying regulatory mechanism.We first examined the effect of anacetrapib (ANA) and dalcetrapib (DAL) on LDLR and PCSK9 expression in hepatic cells in vitro. ANA exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition on both LDLR and PCSK9 expression in CETP-positive HepG2 cells and human primary hepatocytes as well as CETP-negative mouse primary hepatocytes (MPH). Moreover, the induction of LDLR protein expression by rosuvastatin in MPH was blunted by cotreatment with ANA. In both HepG2 and MPH ANA treatment reduced the amount of mature form of SREBP2 (SREBP2-M). In vivo, oral administration of ANA to dyslipidemic C57BL/6J mice at a daily dose of 50 mg/kg for 1 week elevated serum total cholesterol by approximately 24.5% (p < 0.05%) and VLDL-C by 70% (p < 0.05%) with concomitant reductions of serum PCSK9 and liver LDLR/SREBP2-M protein. Finally, we examined the in vitro effect of two other strong CETP inhibitors evacetrapib and torcetrapib on LDLR/PCSK9 expression and observed a similar inhibitory effect as ANA in a concentration range of 1-10 ?M.Our study revealed an unexpected off-target effect of CETP inhibitors that reduce the mature form of SREBP2, leading to attenuated transcription of hepatic LDLR and PCSK9. This negative regulation of SREBP pathway by ANA manifested in mice where CETP activity was absent and affected serum cholesterol metabolism.
Project description:Inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) increases HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) levels. However, the circulating CETP level varies and the impact of its inhibition in species with high CETP levels on HDL structure and function remains poorly characterized. This study investigated the effects of dalcetrapib and anacetrapib, the two CETP inhibitors (CETPis) currently being tested in large clinical outcome trials, on HDL particle subclass distribution and cholesterol efflux capacity of serum in rabbits and monkeys. New Zealand White rabbits and vervet monkeys received dalcetrapib and anacetrapib. In rabbits, CETPis increased HDL-C, raised small and large ?-migrating HDL, and increased ABCA1-induced cholesterol efflux. In vervet monkeys, although anacetrapib produced similar results, dalcetrapib caused opposite effects because the LDL-C level was increased by 42% and HDL-C decreased by 48% (P < 0.01). The levels of ?- and pre?-HDL were reduced by 16% (P < 0.001) and 69% (P < 0.01), resulting in a decrease of the serum cholesterol efflux capacity. CETPis modulate the plasma levels of mature and small HDL in vivo and consequently the cholesterol efflux capacity. The opposite effects of dalcetrapib in different species indicate that its impact on HDL metabolism could vary greatly according to the metabolic environment.
Project description:Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality within the United States and worldwide. Although targeting low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in the prevention of CVD has been shown to be effective, evidence exists to indicate that significant cardiovascular (CV) risk remains in patients receiving 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) - a risk that may be correlated with low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Among the various tactics under investigation to increase HDL-C, inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) appears the most adept to raise these levels. Although torcetrapib, a CETP inhibitor, demonstrated significant beneficial changes in HDL-C and LDL-C after 12 months of therapy when coadministered with atorvastatin, patients in the torcetrapib arm experienced a rise in mortality, including increased risk of death from CV and non-CV causes as well as a significant rise in major CV events. Later studies established that the adverse effects of torcetrapib were produced from molecule-specific off-target effects and not to the mechanism of CETP inhibition. These untoward outcomes have not been detected with anacetrapib, the third of the CETP inhibitors to enter Phase III trials. Furthermore, treatment with anacetrapib revealed both a statistically significant decrease in LDL-C and increase in HDL-C over placebo. While the place in therapy of niacin and fibrates to reduce CV events is currently in question secondary to the Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic Syndrome with Low HDL Cholesterol/High Triglyceride and Impact on Global Health Outcomes and the Action to Control CV Risk in Diabetes trials, the ongoing large-scale, randomized-placebo, controlled-outcomes study with anacetrapib coadministered with statin treatment will not only test the hypothesis if CETP inhibition lowers residual CV risk but will also provide insight as to which patient subgroups might benefit the most from anacetrapib despite aggressive therapy with statins.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) with torcetrapib in humans increases plasma high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels but is associated with increased blood pressure. In a phase 3 clinical study, evaluating the effects of torcetrapib in atherosclerosis, there was an excess of deaths and adverse cardiovascular events in patients taking torcetrapib. The studies reported herein sought to evaluate off-target effects of torcetrapib. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Cardiovascular effects of the CETP inhibitors torcetrapib and anacetrapib were evaluated in animal models. KEY RESULTS: Torcetrapib evoked an acute increase in blood pressure in all species evaluated whereas no increase was observed with anacetrapib. The pressor effect of torcetrapib was not diminished in the presence of adrenoceptor, angiotensin II or endothelin receptor antagonists. Torcetrapib did not have a contractile effect on vascular smooth muscle suggesting its effects in vivo are via the release of a secondary mediator. Treatment with torcetrapib was associated with an increase in plasma levels of aldosterone and corticosterone and, in vitro, was shown to release aldosterone from adrenocortical cells. Increased adrenal steroid levels were not observed with anacetrapib. Inhibition of adrenal steroid synthesis did not inhibit the pressor response to torcetrapib whereas adrenalectomy prevented the ability of torcetrapib to increase blood pressure in rats. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Torcetrapib evoked an acute increase in blood pressure and an acute increase in plasma adrenal steroids. The acute pressor response to torcetrapib was not mediated by adrenal steroids but was dependent on intact adrenal glands.